Addiction Recovery - Treatment Professional

How Much Time Can I Take Off from Work to Go to Drug Treatment?

Seeking treatment for a substance abuse disorder should not cost you your job. In our blog, we walk you through this complex process.

How Much Time Can I Take Off from Work to Go to Drug Treatment?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 15, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Recovering from a substance abuse disorder (SUD) takes time. Between receiving addiction treatment, adjusting to a life without drugs and alcohol, and rebuilding your relationship with yourself and others, you will likely need to take time away from work to heal fully.

Although, taking time off work to seek treatment can be scary, especially if you are worried about getting fired. Luckily, laws exist that allow you to take time off work and keep your job while healing. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed in 1993 to protect workers who need to take time off work during a medical crisis. Whether it is their health problem or a family member’s, people are guaranteed at least 12 weeks of leave by FMLA for qualifying medical conditions.

If you are seeking substance abuse treatment, you can be covered by FMLA because SUD is a qualifying mental health condition. While FMLA is unpaid, it is still an excellent option if you are seeking care at inpatient treatment as most inpatient rehab programs last thirty to ninety days. FMLA will give you the time to detox and start taking steps to rebuild your life.

To qualify for FMLA, you must work for a company that has fifty or more employees. Additionally, you must have been employed with the company for at least a year and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours to qualify for FMLA. Before you take your leave, you must notify your employer and go through the proper channels. 

Along with notifying your employer, you will more than likely need to fill out paperwork to ensure that you keep your job while you are seeking treatment. If you leave without notifying your employer, you can be fired. Talking to your employer about needing treatment may seem intimidating or embarrassing, but many employers will be grateful and supportive of your need to heal. 

More importantly, avoiding rehab can cost you your job if your SUD causes you to start using drugs on the job, missing work, or making other mistakes. Going to rehab is your best chance to ensure that you will be able to maintain and build your career in the long run.

I Do Not Qualify for FMLA. What’s Next?

If you do not qualify for FMLA, there are still additional options that may allow you to seek treatment while keeping your job. The first and easiest route you can take is speaking to your employer about potential accommodations that they would be willing to make for you. It is not guaranteed that your employer will be willing to work with you, but it is worth asking.

If your employer is unwilling to make any accommodations, you can consider using any PTO time you have accrued to start your treatment. This option is beneficial as your employer usually cannot prevent usage of your PTO. PTO will allow you to still be paid while you are seeking treatment. 

It is important to remember that you cannot be fired if you seek either of these options. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you cannot be fired for going to rehab. SUDs are considered a protected class of mental health conditions that employers cannot fire you over unless you are using drugs or alcohol while you are on the job. If your employer does fire you for seeking treatment at a rehab facility, you can file a complaint against them, and you will more than likely be able to get your job back.

If these are not feasible options for you, it is worth speaking to an admissions counselor at the inpatient treatment center you are planning to attend. Admissions counselors have years of experience helping people navigate their work schedules to ensure they can keep their jobs while seeking the care they need to recover from their SUD. 

Additional Options

Suppose you have spoken to an admissions counselor at an inpatient rehab treatment facility and believe that inpatient rehab is not an option for you. In that case, you can consider starting rehab at an outpatient treatment program. In an outpatient treatment program, you will still be able to receive therapies and medications to ease your cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

You will also receive support from medical professionals and counselors who will hold your hand through recovery stresses. 

Most importantly, outpatient programs allow you to continue to go to work as they are part-time programs. You will visit the treatment center two or three times a week for treatment around your work schedule, and you will not be at risk of losing your job for doing so. If in-person outpatient treatment still creates complications for your schedule, you can also consider telehealth care. Telehealth works similarly to in-person outpatient rehab, but it allows you to seek treatment on your schedule from the comfort of your home.

Explore Every Option You Have with The Forge Recovery Center

The Forge Recovery Center knows recovering from addiction takes time. While recovering from a SUD, you will need to detox and take the time to rebuild the other parts of your life that were affected by addiction. Recovery can be scary and overwhelming, especially if you are concerned about losing your job while seeking treatment.

At The Forge, our staff has the knowledge and experience to help you work with your employer to find an option that works best for you without risking your employment. We know that financial security is an integral part of recovery, and we want to make sure your healing process is as comfortable as possible.

If you want to learn more about your rights and attending an addiction center, please reach out to The Forge Recovery Center team.

Newsletter banner

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news, resources, and updates from The Forge Recovery Center.