This article is by Dr. Mark Gerges and published by Recovery Connection
You’re living a double life. You go to work and have a family and friends. But the other side is darker. You drink or do drugs to get through your day. You even sneak in a buzz or high in the middle of your work day to get you past the grind. You’re not alone, though. Many professionals struggle with alcoholism and addiction. Surveys show that 60 percent of American adults know someone who has been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work. Even drug abuse among healthcare professionals is becoming commonplace. Chances are, someone knows that you do.
You might think you have things under control and that your job performance isn’t affected by your drinking and drug use; think again. Looking at the big picture, your company is suffering because of your decreased productivity, mistakes made at work and your frequent absences. If the company is losing so much money on you, chances are you are going to lose your job if you don’t get help soon.
Remember that most employers provide health insurance for their employees. Health insurance will pay for drug rehab in most cases. So why not go to rehab while you still have a job, instead of trying to pay for rehab while unemployed?
This article will answer the following questions:
- Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?
- Will my job be held while I’m getting treatment?
- How will I pay for bills and living expenses if I go to rehab?
- What is FMLA and how does it work for me?
Answers to Your Questions and Concerns
We understand that you have concerns and fears about going into to drug rehab. But you risk losing everything–including your job—if you don’t seek help for your alcohol or drug problem. Don’t let fear stand in the way of getting better. The following questions are common roadblocks standing in the way of treatment and success; let us give you peace of mind.
Can I lose my job if my boss knows that I’m an alcoholic or addict and need treatment?
This is a big concern for many professionals in the same predicament. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from being discriminated against because of a disability. Under this act, it defines what qualifies as a disability. People who struggle with the disease of alcoholism are considered to have a disability under this law.
Here’s where it gets technical: If your job performance has declined because of your drinking, your employer has the right to fire you as long as they can prove that your performance was poor. If you choose to go to an alcohol rehab program before your employer takes any disciplinary action, you can’t get fired for past errors or poor job performance.
People actively using illegal drugs are not protected by the ADA. The act does protect someone who has gone to a drug rehab program and is not using or has a history of drug use but is in recovery. Your employer has the right to test you for drugs. So it is in your own best interest to seek help at a drug rehab as soon as possible.
Will my job be held while I’m getting treatment?
The ADA provides protection to alcoholics and recovering addicts who chose to go to drug and alcohol rehab. Your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations, such as change your work schedule so you can attend AA/NA meetings or allow you to take a leave of absence to attend alcohol and drug rehab. Read on to see how the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can protect you from losing your job while in treatment.
Won’t my career or skill set suffer if I get out of the “game?”
You might think that your skills will diminish while being away from work. The reality is that your career and abilities improve when you go to rehab. When you go to a treatment center, you start your treatment at detox. Your body is cleansed of the toxins from alcohol and drugs and your health and cognitive functions improve, making you sharper.
When you complete rehab, you work on your addiction issues and other mental health issues that have probably taken up much of your thought and energy. Addressing all these issues clears your mind and makes you a better employee. You find that your productivity will increase as well as your drive to work harder and longer.
How will I pay for bills and living expenses if I go to rehab?
Alcohol and drug rehab is a big added expense on top of your bills and general cost of living. However, there are ways you can continue receiving income while you are in rehab. Using accrued vacation time lets you get a paycheck while being away in treatment. If your employer offers short-term and long-term disability, you might be able to use this while in rehab.
Rehab is a valuable investment that changes your life. If you choose not to receive treatment, your job performance will continue to decline and your employer may terminate you.
What is FMLA and how does it work for me?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allow eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence while having their jobs protected. You are allowed 12 weeks of medical leave in a 12-month period. If you choose to enter an inpatient drug rehab program, the FMLA law protects you from being terminated.
How can I get FMLA and short-term disability approved while I am in rehab?
If you decide that you need to go to drug and alcohol rehab, call Recovery Connection and complete your free clinical assessment. Next, we will verify your insurance coverage and qualify you for treatment at one of the nation’s leading rehab centers. We explain all of your insurance coverage and any deductibles you need to meet. After everything is set, we arrange travel to and from your rehab. After you arrive at rehab, the physician there will contact your employer and explain that you are taking FMLA. Your employer will not know you are in drug and alcohol rehab, only that you are in the hospital for private medical reasons. If you have short-term disability insurance, you will be qualified and can start receiving pay.
Recovery Connection always recommends going to alcohol and drug rehab before things get worse at work and you lose your job and health insurance. Admitting that you have a problem and then making the decision to go to rehab is the first and hardest step to your recovery from addiction. It takes courage to admit you need help. Recovery Connection is here for you when you decide to take that first step.
Won’t my reputation suffer because I choose to go the drug and alcohol rehab?
If you decide to tell your coworkers, you might think people are going to think poorly of you or treat you differently. But chances are your coworkers are going to appreciate you more. You give your co-workers peace of mind by choosing to go to rehab to address your alcohol or drug problem. Your decision to get treatment shows that you recognize your alcohol and drug problem was getting in the way of work. You might even see that you are respected more because of your decision.
If you think that coworkers are treating you differently or gossiping, you can approach your human resources representative. However, keep in mind that when you go to treatment, you are going to gain more confidence and your self-esteem will grow. Look past the negativity and use it as fuel to reach your professional goals. Don’t let idle talk or people’s ignorance stand in the way of your well-being and success.
If you choose to not tell your coworkers, that is your decision. However, being honest with yourself and living a life of self-acceptance is one of the most important changes you must make in recovery. You will learn in the 12 steps that only a life of complete honesty will reward you with complete recovery from addiction.