How to Talk to an Employer about Rehab

It’s not easy to talk to an employer about rehab–and that’s the simple truth. The fact is, talking about rehab also means disclosing information about a drug or alcohol abuse problem. There is a tremendous amount of fear that accompanies this type of disclosure. Will the employer use this knowledge against you? Will they start looking for evidence of reduced work performance or view you differently when considering promotions or evaluations? Although employers, according to legislation, aren’t supposed to penalize an employee for getting substance abuse treatment, doesn’t it still happen?

At WhiteSands, clients often request guidance about disclosing rehab treatment with employers. We understand their concerns. Even with legal protections, many clients worry about how treatment will impact their jobs. How will they be able to combat workplace discrimination if they believe their condition is being used against them? How can they let employers know that their condition is well managed and that they can be trusted to do their job?

In this article, we’ll discuss the challenges associated with talking to an employer about rehab and substance abuse treatment. We’ll explain the protections in place that allow employees to take time for medical care, including rehab treatment. Going through substance addiction is difficult enough, but adding workplace concerns only increases the anxiety about the treatment process. At WhiteSands, we support clients each step of the way. The main priority is helping clients regain their mental and physical health–and that means tackling substance addiction through a series of best treatment practices and relapse prevention strategies. 

Let WhiteSands help you regain your life and well-being. Like all big problems, a substance addiction must be dealt with–and the sooner the better. When you can manage your addiction, you’ll be able to manage the other important aspects of your life too. A healthier life begins once you enroll at WhiteSands for substance abuse treatment. 

The Challenge of Addressing Rehab with Employers

No one wants to feel like their job is in jeopardy, but when an employee can’t work because of a medical condition, it can be a scary time. Employers depend on their employees, but it’s also important to remember that employees get sick at times, and when they do, they may need time off to undergo treatment and get well. 

Employers should abide by all legislation regarding employee protections. No employer wants to lose a good employee–even for a short duration, but they are certainly aware that workers may get sick or encounter problems that require a leave of absence. 

Talking to an employer about your plan to enroll in treatment is the first step in the healthy management of your condition. The discussion will allow you and your employer to create a plan for your absence. This allows them to make staffing adjustments to handle your workload and it allows you to set the wheels of your recovery in motion. 

Remember that you do not have to go into great detail about your health issues. Certainly, your employer may require documentation associated with your treatment, but they don’t need to know all the details about your battles with substance abuse. Understandably, you want to maintain your privacy, and employers should respect your privacy while honoring your right to take leave for medical treatment

The Role of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

talk about rehab with an employer

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are pieces of legislation that give employees the right to take time off for medical leave that includes a mental or behavioral health condition. These laws protect people who have a history of substance abuse from discrimination in the workplace. FMLA allows workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave off for a medical condition. Substance abuse treatment qualifies as a serious medical condition under FMLA. 

The acts make it clear that employers must respect employees’ privacy regarding health matters, including substance abuse treatment. Employees must meet eligibility requirements to take time off for treatment. For instance, FMLA states that employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months to qualify for taking leave. 

These acts are significant pieces of legislation that employers must honor. They risk their business or position by failing to honor their legal obligations. 

The Positive Impact of Recovery on Productivity and Wellbeing

The top priority for individuals is their health. Without mental and physical health, a person can’t maintain their workplace productivity. Moreover, workers can lose their workplace protections if they’re caught abusing drugs or alcohol while on the job. Getting treatment often involves a leave of absence, but it ultimately helps people protect their jobs and improve their workplace performance. 

Employers need dependable employees. Demonstrating that you are taking care of your health needs shows that you can make good decisions. Allowing a substance abuse issue to continue is risky. Employers may even suspect that you are going through a behavioral health problem. By getting into treatment and beginning the recovery process, you can safeguard your health and future–and that includes your work and ability to perform your duties well. 

Setting Boundaries for Post-Rehab Work Discussions

After returning to work after treatment, keep in mind that you do not have to disclose what happened in rehab or any other aspects of your health. Your substance abuse treatment is healthcare treatment, which means that you are entitled to privacy. Your employer only needs to know that you have completed your treatment and can return to work. Anything else you contribute is your personal choice.

It is a good idea to set some boundaries for post-rehab work discussions. You don’t have to disclose what rehab was like or what you did during rehab, for instance. You can simply state that you are managing your condition and that you can fulfill the normal aspects of your job. You may need to disclose post-rehab treatment if it conflicts with your work schedule. Many clients continue to attend therapy or aftercare programming for some time after completing a rehab program. 

Building Trust and Understanding with Employers

You can build trust with an employer by taking care of your medical needs before they compromise your work performance. Getting treatment when you need it is a sign of good judgment. Employers understand that workers have medical care needs. They are also aware of their obligations to honor employee rights. 

Once you make a plan to enroll in rehab treatment and take medical leave from your job, you can focus on what’s most important–your recovery. Remember, too, that your condition leaves you vulnerable to anxiety. You will be naturally worried about your job. However, once you begin treatment, you will experience improvements in both your mental and physical health. Once your mind and body are free of the substance of addiction, you will be able to transform your life and well-being for the better. You’ll be able to perform better at work and maintain your work responsibilities without the threat that substance abuse can pose to careers and other important aspects of life. 

Call WhiteSands to begin your recovery journey today. We can guide you through the process of wellness.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.