Can I Get My Job Back After Rehab

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Can I Get My Job Back After Rehab?

Table of Contents

Making the effort to get help with substance abuse problems can be a difficult decision. But it is estimated that nearly 20 million Americans choose to do so in order to improve their lives every year. However, how to handle going back to work after rehab, can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the transition back to your job easier and smoother. Read on to learn how to manage returning to work after rehab.

Working after Substance Abuse Recovery

Substance abuse recovery can be long and challenging, but reaching sobriety is only the first step. After rehab, many individuals must face the challenge of returning to work or finding gainful employment for the first time. Re-entering the workforce after treatment can be intimidating, but there are steps you can take that can make the transition smoother.

If you return to your old job after substance abuse treatment, it’s important to be honest about what happened. Discussing personal issues with an employer or colleagues can be difficult, but being open and direct is essential for creating a supportive environment where you feel comfortable. Make sure your boss is aware of any restrictions that may have been imposed on you, such as a mandatory drug test or limited hours.

For job-hunting after addiction treatment, it’s best to start the search slowly. Choose jobs that don’t involve drinking or drugs, and look for roles that fit your skill set. This will help prevent the reoccurrence of substance use disorder. If your employers ask about your time away, just be honest about your recovery journey and explain how you’ve grown since leaving treatment.

No matter where you are in the job search process, help is available to make the transition back to work easier. Consider applying for a mentorship program or looking into resources from organizations like The National Institute on Drug Abuse. They can assist you in finding training and guidance for job preparation and also offer treatment for managing anxiety related to returning to work.

Finally, remember that you are not alone in this process. Contact your support network or find a recovery coach to encourage you when times get tough. With the right tools and resources, you can succeed in work and life after rehab.

Working after Substance Abuse Recovery

What is a Return to Work Agreement after Rehab?

A Return to Work Agreement is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee recovering from addiction. This document covers the employee’s responsibilities regarding their recovery and what the employer expects in terms of performance upon returning to work. Usually, these agreements are signed by both parties and include conditions such as regular drug testing, attendance at meetings or therapy sessions, and a commitment to maintain employment for a certain period.

By signing this agreement, employers can ensure their workplace is safe from substance use and abuse while providing employees with the necessary support to achieve long-term sobriety. This also includes the mental health services administration that comes with seeking treatment. A Return to Work Agreement is an important tool for employers to ensure their employees can perform at the highest level possible.

Both employers and employees must understand the terms of the Return to Work Agreement before signing it. This document should be carefully read over multiple times to ensure that both parties are fully aware of all its contents and obligations they must fulfill. It’s also important to note that these agreements can be changed or modified at anytime, providing both parties the flexibility to effectively manage their recovery process.

By signing a Return to Work Agreement, employees and employers are taking an important step towards rebuilding trust and understanding and combatting drug or alcohol addiction. This document helps create an open dialogue between both parties, essential for successful rehabilitation and long-term sobriety. It’s also a great way to ensure employees can return to work confidently, knowing that their employer has their best interests in mind.

What is a Return to Work Agreement after Rehab

Can Your Job Fire You for Going to Rehab

The short answer is yes, but the good news is that there are laws in place to protect individuals who seek help for addiction or mental health issues. Research has shown that employment actually provides therapeutic utility to many recovered addicts. Depending on your state and employer, there may be certain legal requirements they must follow before you can be dismissed from your job. You can opt for outpatient rehab, go to rehab facilities for using illegal drugs or take courses to improve your job performance after attending rehab.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you have a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you cannot be fired because you participate in a rehab program based on medical reasons. An employer may not refuse to hire or fire someone because they have an addiction or mental health issue.

In addition, the ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, including providing time off for rehab. Employers must also keep information about their employees’ disabilities private and confidential.

State Laws

Many states have laws that protect employees from being fired because of rehab attendance. These laws vary by state but may include the right to a reasonable accommodation for those going through rehab or a prohibition on firing an employee for seeking help.

It’s important to note that state laws may not be as comprehensive as federal law, so if you’re worried about your job security, it’s best to research your state’s specific rules regarding rehab and employment. Many workplaces also support rehab and recovery for their employees.

State laws

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows qualified employees to take unpaid leave for medical or family reasons. Under the FMLA, an employee can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in 12 months for rehab without fear of losing their job.

It’s important to note that not all employers must comply with the FMLA. To qualify for this leave, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

Can You Go Back To Work After Rehab?

The decision to return to work after rehab can be a difficult. On the one hand, returning to work is an important tool for maintaining long-term sobriety and providing stability; on the other, going back too soon may not give enough time for full recovery and rehabilitation.

Considering all options carefully and discussing potential obstacles with a qualified healthcare provider is important. It’s also important to have the support of family, friends, and coworkers to create an environment that will encourage success in recovery.

To prepare for a successful return to work after rehab, planning and being aware of potential challenges is important. Financial issues may need to be addressed before returning to work, such as settling outstanding debts or finding ways to supplement income while recovering. It’s also important to assess the physical and emotional demands of the job, including any potential triggers that could lead to relapse.

One way to successfully transition back into the workplace is by taking on smaller responsibilities at first, like part-time jobs or freelance projects. This can help ease the job’s stress and allow a gradual reintroduction into the working world. Knowing laws that protect individuals in recovery from discrimination or harassment can also be effective in advocating for their rights as an employee or job-seeker.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace and provides access to various accommodations. This law applies not only to individuals with physical disabilities but also to those with mental or psychological impairments as long as they can show evidence that their condition greatly limits one or more major life activities.

The Rehabilitation Act protects those already employed in the workplace and those applying for a job or seeking to re-enter the workforce after rehabilitation treatment. This includes protections from discrimination based on past substance abuse disorders and providing reasonable accommodations for any limitations that may still exist due to recovery.

To receive these protections, individuals must identify themselves as having a disability to their employer. However, it’s important to note that employers are not obligated to refer to an employee’s condition publicly, and the employee can choose how much information they wish to share.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects individuals’ personal health information. HIPAA ensures that private medical records, including those related to substance abuse and addiction treatment, remain confidential.

This means employers cannot access private health information without the employee’s written consent. Also, employers cannot make decisions about hiring, firing, or any other employment action based on an individual’s health status. This also applies to post-rehabilitation drug tests.

By protecting individuals from discrimination and providing access to confidential medical information, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) aim to ensure successful re-entry into the workplace. With careful planning and understanding of these laws, individuals can make informed decisions about returning to work after rehabilitation.

Tips for Talking to Your Employer

Once you have completed a rehabilitation program, discussing your return to work with your employer is important. This can be an intimidating conversation, but there are several tips to help make the discussion go smoothly.

  • First, it’s important to be honest and open about your experience in rehab. Your employer wants to know that you have taken the necessary steps to improve your long-term health and success. Be sure to emphasize that you have been engaging with a professional team and are taking responsible measures to ensure continued sobriety.

Tips for Talking to Your Employer

  • It may also be beneficial to discuss any accomplishments or takeaways from rehab. This helps show that despite facing a setback, you have grown and stronger. Showing your employer you are tough and determined will help build trust and demonstrate dedication.
  • Finally, it’s important to show respect for your employer’s decision. Even if they decide not to allow you to return, thank them for their consideration and wish them the best of luck with the company moving forward. This will help maintain a good relationship and may open doors in the future.

By following these tips, you can have a successful conversation about returning to work with your employer and start a new chapter in your professional and personal life!

The Takeaway

Rehabilitation doesn’t have to be a barrier to returning to work. With proper care and support, numerous resources can help individuals in recovery re-enter the workforce. Employers need to create an environment that recognizes the challenges of rehabilitation and provides employees with reasonable accommodations such as flexible schedules and modified job duties.

Additionally, organizations should provide employees access to support groups and mental health treatments that can help them develop the skills they need to thrive in their work life.

By understanding the challenges of rehabilitation and providing appropriate accommodations, employers can create a positive working environment that benefits former rehab patients and encourages all staff members to prioritize their self-care.

At NuView Treatment Center, our team of dedicated professionals is here to help individuals in recovery find the resources and support they need to return to work. Please contact us for more information on our programs and services.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When returning to work, it's important to be mindful of potential changes that may have occurred during your time away. There will likely be new systems and procedures in place, as well as potentially different staffing within the team. You should also prepare for the possibility that some of your coworkers may have shifted roles or no longer be employed at the company.

It's possible to take paid leave for rehab. However, this will depend on the particular company’s policies and procedures. You should speak to your supervisor or human resource team to determine if a particular policy applies for taking leaves of absence due to rehab.

If it appears that your job may be in jeopardy due to time away from rehab, it's important to speak with your supervisor or human resources team. Often, employers are more understanding of employees who require medical leave, which should be considered when addressing job security issues. There may also be workplace initiatives or policies that could benefit you during this time, and it's important to inquire about these if they are available.

The best way to ensure a smooth transition upon returning to work after rehab is to be proactive in keeping up with the most recent developments in your job. Researching into any new systems or procedures that may have been implemented while you were away could help make the transition process easier. Additionally, reaching out to coworkers and supervisors before returning can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that potential issues are addressed before they arise.

Sheikh, K., & Mattingly, S. (1984). Employment rehabilitation: outcome and prediction. American journal of industrial medicine, 5(5), 383–393.

Laudet A. B. (2012). Rate and predictors of employment among formerly polysubstance dependent urban individuals in recovery. Journal of addictive diseases, 31(3), 288–302.

Silverman, K., Holtyn, A. F., & Morrison, R. (2016). The Therapeutic Utility of Employment in Treating Drug Addiction: Science to Application. Translational issues in psychological science, 2(2), 203–212.

Frone, M. R., Casey Chosewood, L., Osborne, J. C., & Howard, J. J. (2022). Workplace Supported Recovery from Substance Use Disorders: Defining the Construct, Developing a Model, and Proposing an Agenda for Future Research. Occupational health science, 6(4), 475–511.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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