A common fear when someone starts to think about going into treatment for alcoholism is all of the logistical issues they’ll need to figure out.
This can include, but isn’t limited to, finding someone to look after your pets, finding a way to get your bills paid while you’re away (which can be very difficult for a lot of people, especially if they’re worried about losing their job), and sorting things out with your boss.
Telling your family or telling your friends that you’re going into treatment can also pose a set of challenges, but all of these tasks and things to sort out are just a part of the process.
Depending on what sort of supports you have around you, and your personal resources, some of these will be easier than others, but when it’s all said and done, getting yourself into rehab and healing is the most important part and once you start taking steps towards that, you’re on the right path.
Employers Realize the Benefits of Rehab (Sometimes)
Depending on your role at your company and how crucial you are to their operations, some employers recognize that you taking the time you need to get yourself healthy is actually a huge boost to their bottom line in the long run.
Employers will invest in things like enhanced training for their employees, and some will view rehab in a similar light. They’ll see it as a worthwhile upgrade, in a sense, and they’ll see the value in you being the best version of yourself.
Unfortunately, not everyone has an employer that is as focused on the wellness of their staff, or you could be in a role that is deemed a bit more replaceable at your company which can mean they won’t be willing to bend as much to accommodate you, which can be very unfortunate and can stop a lot of people from getting the help they need.
You are more than just your job, but when you’re trying to get help for addiction and you’re feeling like you can’t get the time off work, it can make you feel very trapped.
But There Might Be Laws On Your Side…
There are various laws and regulations in America that can protect you from losing your job if you go to rehab. Leaning on things like this can still be a bit of a struggle if your employer isn’t supportive, sometimes they will try to use it against you, but DO NOT let that discourage you because if you are discriminated against for medical issues, you could have additional protections availaible to you.
Something else to keep in mind is that if your alcoholism is affecting your life, and you put off treatment because you’re worried about your job (Which can be a very valid choice, sometimes you don’t have easy options), it’s entirely possible that you’ll end up losing your job due to performance slipping, missing work, and other things that can happen when someone goes from being a functional alcoholic to one that is less functional over time.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Learn more about the family and medical leave act here.
This is a law that exists to project employees for businesses that employ at least 50 people, so if you’re working for a smaller company or a family business, you may not be covered under this.
This is for people who are living with the birth of a child, or adoption, or fostering a child and it gives them some time to take leave from work to sort things out at home.
It’s also applicable if someone needs to take leave to help a family member who needs medical assistance.
Finally, it’s for people who need treatment for a serious medical condition and alcoholism can fit into that category.
What if my employer tells my coworkers that I’m in rehab? That’s a problem! Your employer needs to keep this information confidential and not spread details to people you work with. It’s your choice to decide who you wish to discluse things to, other than the people at your employer that need to know.
ADA or Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA)
The Americans With Disabilities Act or MHPAEA could also be worth looking into.
The ADA applies to businesses at employ 15 or more workers, so it applies to smaller businesses than the Family and Medical Leave act does, but it still leaves employees of smaller companies without the same levels of protection, unfortunately.
The Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act aims to ensure that people with various forms of disabilities relating to addictions are treated the same way as people who have other types of illnesses and diseases.
Taking A Leave of Absence From Work for Rehab
If you’re unsure if any of the above acts apply to you, you can always reach out to your company’s HR department to ask what types of accommodations or programs they may have available. Some insurance plans will even cover the costs of rehab, and you can call the number below to find out if you’re covered under your health insurance.
In a perfect world, everyone’s job would be waiting for them when they return from rehab, without any extra stress or consequences, but unfortunately not all workplaces are as sympathetic, especially smaller ones that don’t fall under the aforementioned laws. It can be tricky to navigate and plan, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Will I lose my job if I go to rehab? It’s possible that your employer will fire you, whether it’s lawful or not, and in that case you have to decide if you want to fight wrongful termination, or just find a better job for yourself now that you’ve got the burden of alcohol under control.
Having said that, many workplaces will be understanding and supportive, too.
Some people, instead of seeking rehab, will wonder if it’s possible to quit drinking on their own without rehab. There isn’t always an easy answer, but the goal is to get yourself free from alcohol, that needs to be a priority.