Overcoming Drug Addiction Without Losing Your Job

Making the decision to pursue help for an addiction is a huge accomplishment, but the recovery process has only begun. The next step is choosing the right treatment program for you, which gets more difficult if you’re a busy professional who can’t afford to lose your job.

You’re certainly not alone. About 76 percent of people with a substance abuse addiction hold a steady job, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Some drug abusers can function while under the influence, and their jobs are safe as a result. However, when you seek treatment, you might be worried about putting your reputation and career in jeopardy.

Seeking treatment in an immersive program is the largest challenge. Many treatment programs want you to leave behind the world behind, for weeks at a time, while you detox and adjust.  This is one of the most effective methods for overcoming an addiction, and if you can get the time off and shut out your work responsibilities, it’s highly recommended.

If you’re worried about losing your job because you can’t miss work, don’t worry. There are options for people just like you. Here are some things you should know about rehab for professionals.

You Have Legal Rights to Protect Your Job

Legally, your employer cannot fire you because you took a few weeks off to attend rehab. Both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect your job as soon as you enter the rehabilitation program. The ADA protects you from being fired for reasons relating to your addiction and the treatment process. The FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave, and addiction disorders fit into that category.

If you’re fired for taking the time off, you can file a discrimination charge against your employer. Note that these rules only apply to companies with 15 or more employees. Part-time or contract employees aren’t afforded the same legal benefits either.

If you participate in illegal activities resulting in your arrest, however, you enter different legal grounds that could end in your legal termination—another reason to get your addiction under control.

It’s also important to note that your employer can fire you on grounds of your addiction if it’s seriously inhibiting your work ethic and you’re not seeking help. If confronted, the best way to protect your job is to be honest and open about your addiction and commit to get treatment as soon as possible.

Addiction Support Groups and Counseling

Although immersive addiction recovery programs are typically most effective in helping you get clean, there are other options for seeking treatment. These primarily consist of support groups that meet regularly and can help you overcome your addiction on the side, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of these follow a 12-step program that can be applied in your own time.

You might also see a counselor or therapist specializing in drug addiction treatment. They can enroll you in a part-time drug addiction treatment program that can work around your current schedule. Oftentimes, talking to a counselor is the best way to work through your concerns and find the right options for you. Again, these programs aren’t as effective as treatment centers that take you away from the temptations and stresses of everyday life. But they can be a good starter option for those who can’t afford to miss work.

Apply for Disability Benefits

If you’re not a full-time, salaried employee with health benefits, checking into a treatment center might seem like too much of a risk. Not only could you lose a part-time, hourly job, but you also won’t be paid during the time you’re in treatment. This is particularly stressful if you have members of your household who depend on you for income.

Those who will lose wages during treatment have the option of applying for disability benefits for the duration of their treatment. It can be a complicated process, and not everyone will meet the qualifications. However, it’s worth looking into if you’re unable to make ends meet due to your recovery.

Additionally, government healthcare plans, like Medicaid, can help cover the costs of addiction treatment. Although treatment centers strive to keep costs down, housing individuals and providing comprehensive medical and psychological care for the duration can become costly.

When you’re seeking treatment for a substance abuse addiction, keeping your job should be the last thing you have to worry about. Remember that you have options, and focus on getting yourself healthy again.

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