As if rehabilitation and recovery weren’t complicated enough, you are also trying to manage your job along with all the daily responsibilities and activities involved in getting and staying sober. You may feel overwhelmed with all your responsibilities at the moment, but you can get through this and learn how to manage your time and stay productive at your job. It isn’t easy, but with some planning, you can do it!
Taking Time for Rehabilitation
Many people are afraid to even go into treatment because they already have a job and are afraid of losing it if they take time off or tell their boss they have a substance abuse problem. First of all, if you have a substance use disorder, you are probably already having problems at work. Most employers offer programs to help those who need rehabilitation or treatment for substance abuse, known as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). It can still be hard to approach the subject to your supervisor.
Of course, every boss is different, but most people find when they are proactive and ask for help, not only do they keep their job, but their work relationships might improve. Your supervisor will see you are actively trying to fix the problem, and almost anyone respects that. Most inpatient programs only last two to three weeks before insurance companies stop paying for an inpatient stay. If you do feel you need inpatient rehabilitation, it might require more time off than a typical vacation or taking some family leave. There is some risk involved, but it usually pays off for most people.
What if My Boss Is Less Than Understanding?
While we always hope our supervisor is understanding and will help us get into recovery, that isn’t always the case. However, you do have some rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees that you should not be subject to any discrimination based on a disability. Substance use disorders are considered a disability, so you are protected under the ADA.
That means you cannot be fired for seeking treatment for substance abuse disorder, and your employer has to make “reasonable accommodations” for you at work. That may be a vague term, but directly terminating employment for going into therapy is illegal per this regulation.
Also, you can get protection from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a labor law that allows employees of covered businesses to take an individual leave for substance abuse treatment. Substance abuse is considered a serious health condition and can hinder one’s ability to perform one’s job. The FMLA applies to companies with at least 50 employees working at least 20 weeks per year. If your company falls under FMLA, you can receive up to 12 weeks leave after a year of employment or 1,250 hours of work. You won’t get paid for that time, but you can get your life together in a rehabilitation program.
The Stigma of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
It’s difficult to approach an employer about a personal problem. We have made some strides in overcoming the stigma of substance use disorders and the mental illnesses that often occur with them, but there is much more to be done. It may seem like there are so many people who will have to know about your substance abuse at work, from human resources to your supervisor and the medical professional who might be employed at your company to promote employee health.
Anytime you seek treatment, you have a right to confidentiality if you want it. Or, you may choose to be forthcoming about your illness because that’s what it is–an illness. People often choose to be upfront in the workplace about other illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, so why should you have to hide?
That’s easy to rationalize this intellectually, but putting it into practice is a whole other story. You may be better off choosing confidentiality until you’re feeling more confident and enter into recovery. The bottom line is that you choose when–or if–to disclose that information, and anything said to your employer should remain confidential. You are the captain of the ship, and you decide who knows what.
Working While in Recovery
Once you go through rehabilitation and are discharged to an outpatient program, you can then prepare to return to work. You may choose to go back right away, or you may choose to take more time under the FMLA to get a foothold in recovery before you throw employment back into the mix. Understand your work in recovery is just beginning, and you will have to make commitments to meetings, journaling, therapy, and self-care during this process. You are going to be busy! However, if you have a job you can go back to, your financial health should be taken care of, and that’s one less worry during your recovery.
When working full-time, it can be hard to get the time off to enter rehabilitation for substance abuse. It’s even harder to tell a supervisor at work or ask for time off for treatment. There’s still a stigma around substance use disorder despite the strides people make in educating the public that addiction is a disease, not a choice. No one wants to grow up to have a substance use problem or mental illness, but we sometimes have to take drastic steps to get our life back on track. Getting treatment may be one of them. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we are here to help you navigate detoxification, rehabilitation, and recovery, no matter your situation. Through traditional counseling and alternative therapies, we help give you the tools to succeed in your recovery and avoid relapse. Our Riverside, California facility can give you a fresh start and help you lead a life of sobriety. If you have a co-occurring mental illness, we can help with that as well. Let us give you the help you need by calling us today at (866) 338-6925.