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Will Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation Make Me Lose My Job?

Chronic drug abuse causes considerable damage to the brain and body, leaving users in a diminished functional capacity. It’s not uncommon for chronic users to go in and out of drug treatment, with each time preceded by an untimely relapse episode. More oftentimes than not, the damage left behind by drugs has caused other psychological and/or medical disorders to develop along the way.

Inpatient drug rehabilitation provides the type of intensive, round-the-clock care needed to help long-time addicts get a firm footing in the recovery process. Since inpatient drug rehabilitation programs require a person to live at the facility for the duration of the program, concerns regarding one’s employment status are warranted. Fortunately, there are protections in place to prevent a stay at inpatient drug rehabilitation from compromising your employment status.

Employee Protections

The Americans with Disabilities Act

First enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against persons affected by disability, be it physical or substance abuse-related. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a substance abuse disorder qualifies as a disability.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects those with disabilities such as addiction.

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, these protections prevent employers from:

  • Refusing employment on the basis of a disability
  • Firing a person who has a disability
  • Firing a person who’s in treatment or recovering from a substance abuse disorder

Employers must also maintain confidentiality regarding any medically-related information pertaining to an employee, which includes a person’s drug treatment history.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides added protections for employees who choose to take time away from work to enter an inpatient drug rehabilitation program or any other form of drug treatment. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees can take up 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period without compromising their employment status.

The FMLA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations in terms of an employee’s work schedule when it comes to attending treatment sessions, support group meetings or meeting with a sponsor. While inpatient drug rehabilitation treatment does take place on the grounds of the facility, once a person completes the program ongoing treatment sessions will likely be necessary to maintain ongoing sobriety.

Employer Rights

Work Performance Issues

ADA and FMLA protections only apply in cases where a person is actively seeking treatment. This means, work performance issues can still threaten your job status if you’re not already receiving drug treatment help. In this respect, being in inpatient drug rehabilitation treatment can actually prevent you from getting fired.

Drug Testing

According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, employers still reserve the right to subject an employee to drug testing regardless of whether he or she is current in treatment. Likewise, a positive drug test can result in disciplinary action or firing.

Financial Concerns Regarding Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation

Even with the protections afforded by ADA and FMLA laws, inpatient drug rehabilitation programs can run anywhere from 30 to 90 days in duration. While on unpaid leave from work, daily living expenses can add up fast. To help absorb some of the cost, employees can use their vacation time to cover expenses while in inpatient drug rehabilitation. In cases where an employer offers short-term or long-term disability insurance, these options can also be used to cover living expenses.