Same-day admissions available. Call Now.

Working Towards Recovery: How to Go to Rehab & Keep Your Job

Written by Melissa Carmona

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Editorial Policy

Last Updated - 12/29/2022

View our editorial policy
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (561) 340-7269 now.

Updated 12/29/2022

Addiction is a legitimate medical condition that requires treatment, but some people may be fearful of seeking rehab because they worry they will lose their jobs. While this is an understandable concern, there are laws in place to protect those with addictions, as well as strategies that help you with taking time off work for rehab.

Addressing Stigma Surrounding Drug & Alcohol Rehab

Taking time off work for rehab can be scary, but going to rehab doesn’t have to mean losing your job. The Family Medical Leave Act and other legal protections can help.

You may be worried about going to rehab when you have a job because of a stigma surrounding substance abuse. This means that people may have negative views about drug addiction and treatment. The stigma of drug addiction can be concerning, but the reality is, if you go to rehab, you are actually likely to benefit your employer. Hopefully, your employer will have a positive view surrounding rehab since it can benefit your organization.

If you are worried about losing your job if you go to rehab, keep in mind the benefits of seeking treatment. According to a report from the National Safety Council, employees who are in recovery from substance abuse are less likely to miss work and they have lower job turnover rates. They also have lower rates of hospitalization and go to the doctor less often. All of this saves your employer money, so in the long run, not going to treatment is more of a burden on your employer than going to rehab is. This fact can help you to dispel some of the negative myths surrounding drug and alcohol rehab.

Cost of Substance Abuse for Employers

As mentioned, the cost of continued substance abuse is likely considerably higher than the cost of you going to rehab for your employer. Drug use in the workplace is associated with several expensive consequences for businesses. About 75% of people who abuse alcohol, marijuana, pain medications and other drugs are employed, and they can miss up to 50% more work than those who do not abuse substances.

In addition, 38% of employers report that opioid use has led to poor work attendance or impaired work performance. The price of drug and alcohol abuse is so high that it can cost as much as $13,000 per year to employ someone with an untreated substance use disorder or addiction.

How To Go To Rehab & Keep Your Job

If you need addiction treatment and feel you’ll need to take time off, having a conversation with your human resources manager is probably a good place to start. Prepare to discuss how your decision to go to rehab will benefit the organization by making you a more productive employee.

In addition to discussing the benefits of rehab, it is important that you know your legal rights to treatment. The following laws protect these rights: 

  • FMLAFMLA, or The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, offers protections to those who seek treatment for substance use disorders. According to the stipulations of this law, if your substance use disorder requires inpatient care or ongoing treatment, you are entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year while keeping your health insurance, so long as you meet eligibility requirements. This means that your employer cannot fire you for deciding to go to rehab; however, you can be terminated if you have clearly violated a workplace substance abuse policy.
  • ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who are in recovery from substance use disorders. According to this law, you are protected if you are no longer using illegal drugs. You can access accommodations, such as altered work schedules or even a leave of absence to address your addiction. It is important to remember that ADA does not protect those who are currently using illegal drugs. However, current alcohol use does not disqualify you from receiving ADA accommodations.

In summary, both FMLA and ADA can provide you with protections or accommodations if you’re taking time off work for rehab. FMLA provides you with 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave, but keep in mind you can still be fired if you violate a workplace policy, such as showing up to work under the influence. ADA can also provide accommodations, such as changing work schedules or a leave of absence, as long as you are not currently using illegal drugs. If you are currently struggling with alcohol abuse, ADA may be more lenient.

EAP Programs

Another option to seek treatment is by utilizing your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). According to the Society for Human Resource Management, many employers offer an EAP program and pay for this service for employees to help them overcome personal problems that can interfere with work performance, including substance abuse. Some workplaces may offer an EAP in-house, but many work with a service provider outside the organization. These providers offer confidential services, and as an employee, you can access them on your own. Your EAP program can offer substance abuse counseling or refer you to another service, such as inpatient treatment if needed. Your employer’s human resources department should be able to provide you with information about your EAP, including what services it offers and how to make an appointment with a provider.

If you are concerned about your privacy when you use EAP services, remember that federal law stipulates that drug and alcohol treatment records are confidential. Typically, your employer cannot receive information about your treatment unless you provide written consent. If your employer requires you to access EAP services to address a problem that’s impacting you at work, the employer can only receive general information about whether you were attending required sessions or not.

Taking Time off for Inpatient Rehab

As previously stated, FMLA allows you to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to treat a serious health condition, which can include a substance abuse disorder. If you need inpatient rehab, you can use FMLA leave to take time off for rehab. Your human resources department will be able to help you process the paperwork required for FMLA.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Options

Another option for rehab after work is to consider outpatient addiction treatment if this meets your needs. With outpatient rehab, you can attend appointments during the evenings or weekends. If you need to attend treatment during the day, you can also use FMLA leave to attend your appointments. In some cases, you may be able to seek outpatient rehab without your employer knowing. For example, if you choose an outpatient rehab center that offers appointments after the workday, you can continue to work as usual and receive treatment in the evening.

Is It Safe To Go To Rehab?

Even knowing you can go to rehab and keep your job, you may be concerned about the safety of seeking services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has provided guidance to healthcare facilities to meet the needs of patients while also preventing the spread of infection. Whether on an inpatient or outpatient basis, the staff at your rehab facility will be following extra safety precautions so everyone remains as safe and healthy as possible.

At The Recovery Village at Baptist Health, this includes: 

  • Requiring face masks
  • Regular screenings for clients and staff
  • Suspending visitation and offsite travel
  • Sanitizing and infection control policies

If you still have concerns about the safety of seeking rehab in the face of COVID-19, teletherapy is an option. With teletherapy, you can connect with an addiction counselor via webcam and receive treatment from the comfort and safety of home. The Recovery Village is proud to offer teletherapy for addiction and mental health conditions with flexible scheduling to fit your needs. We also accept insurance to cover some or all of the cost.

We are here when you are ready.

Speak with a Recovery Advocate today to talk about your treatment options.

Returning to Work After Rehab

It’s important to have a plan in place for returning to work after rehab. If you attend inpatient rehab, you will likely continue with ongoing services on an outpatient basis once you return home. FMLA can allow you to take some time off from work for outpatient care if you have not used all 12 weeks of leave permitted per year. ADA also allows for modified work schedules if you need to take some time off from work for outpatient appointments. You may also choose to attend outpatient treatment in the evenings, so it does not interfere with your schedule once you return to work.

Another consideration for returning to work after rehab is a return-to-work agreement. This is a written agreement that outlines what your employer expects of you regarding job performance and attendance. It may also stipulate that you can be terminated if you test positive for drugs or are found to be using substances again after completing rehab. It is important to have a plan in place for maintaining sobriety, managing stress and avoiding relapse triggers so that you can stay on track with recovery and meet the requirements of a return-to-work agreement.

Finding Help for Substance Abuse

If you are ready to seek help for substance abuse, it is important to choose an accredited facility that employs licensed and certified staff. The Recovery Village is an accredited treatment center with multiple locations across the country, and we offer a range of services, including detoxinpatient treatment, and outpatient servicesAftercare planning is a continuous part of rehab to help you make a smooth transition back to work.

The Recovery Village at Baptist Health is available by phone to answer any questions you may have about finding help for substance abuse. Give us a call today to discuss your treatment options in South Florida.


Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides protections that can prevent you from losing your job if you go to rehab. This act provides you with 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year if you require inpatient rehab or ongoing treatment for substance abuse, as long as you meet eligibility requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also prevents your employer from discriminating against you for being in recovery. This means that you will not lose your job for going to rehab; however, you could lose your job if you violate an employer’s policy on drug abuse.

Can I work while in rehab?

If you choose an outpatient treatment program, you can work during the day and attend rehab in the evening while living at home. You can also continue to work while receiving rehab virtually using teletherapy.

Does a company have to give you time off and rehab?

If you meet the requirements of FMLA, your employer cannot terminate you for taking leave for rehab. This law grants you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

View Sources

ADA National Network. “The ADA, Addiction and Recovery.” 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthcare Facilities: Managing Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  June 28, 2020. Accessed November 10, 2020.

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute . “29 CFR § 825.119 – Leave for treatment of substance abuse.” Accessed November 10, 2020.

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. “29 CFR § 825.113 – Serious health condition.” Accessed November 10, 2020.

National Safety Council. “Drugs at Work: What Employers Need to Know.” 2020. Accessed November 9, 2020.

Society for Human Resource Management. “Managing Employee Assistance Programs.” Accessed November 10, 2020.

U.S. Department of Labor. “Family and Medical Leave Act.”  Accessed November 10, 2020.