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Most people work hard to keep up a good impression around their employer, so it’s no surprise that most employees are less than enthusiastic about telling their bosses that they need addiction treatment. That said, communicating your desire to seek addiction treatment is often less scary than it seems. It is also very possible to hold on to a job during an outpatient treatment program. In many cases, having this discussion isn’t even necessary. Employees have a range of options when it comes to managing employment and addiction treatment.

Telling Your Boss That You Need An Outpatient Treatment Program

Remember: you’re not alone in facing this dilemma. 55% of people who suffer from substance use disorders are employed. If you’re struggling to manage employment and addiction treatment, take comfort in the fact that there are 10.8 million full-time employees in the United States suffering from addiction.

Do I Have to Tell My Boss I’m Going to Rehab?

Ultimately, employees are not obligated to tell their employers that they’re going to an outpatient drug treatment program. In fact, employees are legally entitled to medical privacy. However, many people may be reluctant to tell their bosses that they’re going to a treatment center because of what that implies. 

Employers who are not aware that you’ve been abusing drugs and alcohol may be surprised to learn that you’ve suffered from an addiction during the course of your working relationship. In some cases, this can come as a blow and can end up diminishing your employer’s ability to trust you. Many work contracts forbid the use of illegal drugs — even off of the work site. Drinking or using drugs on the job is often a fireable offense. 

If you feel that your job may potentially be on the line, it is often helpful to look into your workplace’s policies when it comes to alcohol and drug use. Telling your boss you’re going to a local outpatient rehab comes with some inevitable risks, and it is often just as helpful to assess your personal relationship with your boss as it is to look into your workplace’s policies.

How to Keep Your Job in Rehab

Despite the inevitable apprehension that people experience before telling their bosses that they’re going to rehab, doing so is often the best course of action. Even employers who are disappointed to find out that you’ve been abusing drugs and alcohol are often relieved that you’re being open with them. However, more often than not, employers have suspected all along that something is amiss. 

No matter how secretive an employee believes themselves to be about their substance abuse, addiction leads to reduced workplace performance, interpersonal problems, and other consequences that are difficult to hide. Chances are, your boss already knows you have a substance use disorder — or at the very least that you’re a less-than-ideal employee. In that case, you going to an outpatient alcohol rehab may come as good news to them.

Advantages of Outpatient Alcohol Programs and Drug Programs

Most employers will understand that if their employee goes to outpatient rehab, they’ll still be able to continue working. Among Los Angeles treatment center, outpatient rehabs are ideal for people with full-time jobs and other major life commitments. Outpatient rehabs offer flexible programs that allow people to receive treatment at designated times several days a week. 

Most outpatient programs are able to work around people’s schedules so that they do not have to miss work. If you’ve communicated to your employer your honest intention to get sober, your boss will be relieved to know that you can pursue recovery without taking a break from work. They may even expect that your work performance will improve in the absence of regular substance abuse.

Taking a Leave of Absence

In some cases, it is a good idea to take a short period of time off work, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your job. Individuals who need to detox from substances with severe withdrawal symptoms, such as benzodiazepinesopioids, or alcohol often are not physically able to work for a period of time. The best alcohol rehabs and drug rehabs offer supervised detox programs so that individuals can become ready to work after only a few days or weeks. Individuals who have to take a hiatus from work are legally protected from being fired by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows individuals to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to treat a substance use disorder.

How To Tell Your Boss You’re Going To Rehab?

When you’re ready to treat your substance use disorder in an outpatient rehab in LA, telling your boss is always a good idea. While it is impossible to predict exactly how your employer will react, more likely than not they will understand that you getting sober will ultimately make you a better employee! 

Some employers even offer financial support or other assistance while you treat your addiction. After all, your treatment program is an investment for them as well as you. Having sober employees will most likely make for a better work environment for everyone, increasing your earning potential as well as the company’s.

Some tips for communicating with your boss include:

  • Accept that you can’t control your boss’ reaction
  • Be open and honest
  • Understand your company’s drug and alcohol policies
  • Look into your legal protections, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Don’t worry about outing yourself as an “addict” — chances are, people already know
  • Don’t worry about being judged
  • If you want, be private about your choice to enter rehab. You don’t have to share everything if you don’t want to.

Remember, no matter what happens at your current job, you shouldn’t let it get in the way of your mental and physical health. Substance use disorders are legitimate and debilitating health conditions that can be fatal when they’re left untreated. Delaying treatment out of financial fears is likely to result in dangerous consequences.

 In the end, even if you are not able to stay at your current job, your employment prospects will improve as a direct result of getting sober. At a Los Angeles outpatient program, however, there’s rarely any need to stop working. You can recover from addiction while living your best life.

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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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