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Dismantling The Fear Of Job Loss In Seeking Recovery

According to a recent study by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), 76 percent of people with substance abuse problems are employed.  Unfortunately, many people avoid getting the treatment they need because of the stigma associated with alcohol and drug addiction and the fear that they may lose their job or hurt their career by doing so.  However, avoiding treatment can be much more damaging in the long run. Addiction can lead to frequent absences, decreased productivity, and ultimately job loss. It’s best to seek help sooner rather than later. Here are some facts that might take the fear of job loss out of seeking treatment you need.

The ADA protects you from being fired due to alcohol or drug addiction

Many wonder if they could be fired if a boss found out they were an alcoholic or drug addict.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination. Unless your boss is able to prove that your performance has suffered, they do not have the right to fire you.  If you are currently using illegal drugs, this is not protected by the ADA.  However, if you have a history of illegal drug use or you have been to rehab, you are protected by the ADA and an employer cannot discriminate on this information.  

Your employer legally required to accommodate if you seek treatment

The ADA ensures that your employer makes the necessary accommodations if you decide to go to treatment.  This includes a leave of absence if you choose an inpatient programs, or changes to work schedule so you can make AA/NA meetings.

Your job will be protected under the FMLA

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers who qualify are eligible for unpaid leave of absence – while job is protected – for up to 12 weeks within a 12 month period.  This act legally protects you from losing your job while in treatment.

Fear of “being out of the game”

In treatment, you will detox and restore your body back to good health. This will improve focus, energy, productivity, and overall work performance.  In treatment you will finally address your mental healthy and underlying issues that have prevented you from reaching your fullest potential. Recovery clears your mind, replenishes, your body, restores your energy and focus, and makes your a better employee and better equipped for success in the workplace and in your personal life.

A worthwhile investment

Here is another important reason to seek treatment while you’re still employed: As an employee, you are more likely to have health insurance.  You may also qualify for disability benefits.  All health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace must cover the 10 essential health benefits, including mental health and substance abuse services.  Check with your health insurance provider so you can be aware of all options.  Your employer might offer short term or long term disability. In this case, you may be eligible to continue receiving pay while in treatment. Accrued vacation time can also allow you continued work compensation while in rehab.  

Confidentiality is your right

According to an article by SAMHSA, employers must maintain complete confidentiality regarding any and all medical-related information they discover about an employee, including any information on a past or present substance abuse disorder.

Treatment may temporarily take time and energy away from your work, but it is crucial if you want to thrive in any career. Avoiding treatment can have damaging and potentially life threatening results.  If you are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, don’t let the fear of losing your job keep you from recovery and a healthy and happy life.