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How Can I Go to Rehab Without Losing My Job?

When people imagine addiction, most people think of a person who cannot function, is unable to hold a job, or care for any responsibilities. While substance use disorders can affect people in this manner, many people suffering from addiction can hold a job. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 70% of people abusing illicit drugs are employed full-time or part-time.[1]

One of the biggest barriers to addiction recovery is worrying about losing your job when you go to rehab. Even though going to an inpatient addiction treatment usually requires you to take some time off of work, some laws protect you against being fired. If you can’t take off work for a residential program, you can balance work with outpatient rehab–allowing you to get the help you deserve without losing your job.

The decision to go to rehab can be life-changing, and nothing should stop you from seeking the help you need. Learning about the laws that protect your job during rehab can help take away some of your fears and motivate you to receive the support and recovery services you deserve.

Laws That Protect Your Job During Rehab

Committing to treatment is one of the most important steps in addiction recovery, and the fear of losing your job shouldn’t stop you from seeking help. Even further, eventually, your addiction will cause you to lose your job one way or another, especially if you begin showing up to work intoxicated. Thankfully, there are a few laws that can protect your job if you decide to seek addiction treatment.

Laws that protect your job during rehab

The laws that will protect your job during drug and alcohol rehab include:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA is a law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons. This law also ensures that you keep your health insurance plan that is provided by your job, ensuring that you have the means to cover the price of addiction treatment.

Employees are eligible for the FMLA for the following reasons:[2]

  • The birth of a child and caring for the newborn child within one year of birth
  • Caring for an adopted child or a foster care child within one year of placement
  • Caring for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;”

Substance use disorders are considered serious health conditions that prevent you from being able to perform the essential functions of your job. If you need to attend drug rehab and would like to return to your job after you complete the program, consider using the FMLA.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is a law that protects all people with disabilities, including individuals who struggle with addictions. This law applies to any business that employs more than 15 people.[3] It is important to remember that the ADA does not protect you from being fired for using substances at work.

The Americans with Disabilities Act can offer you protection from losing your job if you are taking time off to receive professional substance abuse treatment. To receive help from the ADA, you must start the conversation with your employer. Remember that addiction is a disease and asking for the help you need can save your life.

Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA)

The MHPAEA requires mental health conditions and substance use disorders to be addressed in the same manner as physical health treatments.[4] This means that your employer’s benefits must cover these conditions in the same manner that it covers diabetes or high blood pressure. In other words, this law ensures that the insurance you receive from your job will cover addiction treatment services.

Outpatient Rehab Allows You to Keep Working and Go to Rehab at the Same Time

There are two different types of addiction treatment: inpatient and outpatient programs. While inpatient programs require you to live at the facility 24/7, outpatient programs allow you to attend treatment sessions and then return to your home. Outpatient rehab is designed in a manner that allows you to receive the help you need while providing you with a flexible schedule so you can continue going to work or caring for your children.

While attending outpatient rehab, you will receive the same tools and services as you would during inpatient rehab. The only difference is you will have more independence, which makes it vital that you have a stable home life and a reliable support system to lean on.

How to Talk To Your Employer About Going to Rehab

Talking to your employer about going to rehab can be scary, but there are some ways to ensure the conversation goes smoothly. First, you should always be prepared to mention laws like the FMLA to ensure that your boss understands that you are permitted to take unpaid leave to receive the help you need.

Other tips to consider when talking to your boss about attending addiction treatment include:

  • Make sure to let your employer know how much the job means to you
  • Tell your boss that you have a medical condition that requires treatment
  • Be upfront about your substance use disorder and be prepared to show a medical certification
  • If your work has been suffering, let your boss know that receiving this treatment will improve your ability to do your job
  • If your employer is hesitant about allowing you to take full-time leave, consider attending outpatient treatment and continuing to work part-time
  • Discuss the hours you will be in outpatient rehab with your boss so you can balance work with rehab successfully

Start Your Recovery at Next Step Today

If you or a loved one suffers from a substance use disorder, recovery is possible. While worrying that you will lose your job if you take time off for rehab is a valid concern, several laws will protect you. Additionally, you can always choose to attend an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or regular outpatient program where you can receive treatment and continue to meet your responsibilities at work.

To learn more about your treatment options or find help for yourself or a loved one, please contact us today.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Retrieved Feb 2023 from
  2. U.S. Department of Labor: Family and Medical Leave Act, Retrieved Feb 2023 from
  3. ADA National Network: The ADA, Addiction, Recovery, and Employment, Retrieved Feb 2023 from
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Mental Health and Substance Use Insurance Help, Retrieved Feb 2023 from

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