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family and medical leave act
February 1, 2021

Can You Use the Family and Medical Leave Act for Addiction Rehab?

If you’re struggling with substance abuse, but worry that going to drug or alcohol rehab will jeopardize your employment status, you may be hesitant to seek help. Luckily, a law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) means you shouldn’t need to choose between keeping your job and working on improving your health and well-being.

What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The FMLA legally ensures that employees can take a 12-week leave of absence from their jobs for medical reasons, including the need to undergo a full continuum of substance abuse treatment. This law gives you the freedom to seek professional help with the confidence that you’ll still have a job to return to after you get discharged.

Thanks to the FMLA, thousands of Americans living with an addiction can start their journey toward recovery with more peace of mind. However, it is essential to note that the FMLA only provides for unpaid leave, which means you’ll need to rely on your savings or an additional income source to make up for any financial shortfall during this time.

Under the FMLA, you are eligible for medical leave if you:

  • Work for a covered employer
  • Have worked for the same employer for 12 months or more
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding your medical leave
  • Work in an area where your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles

Should You Talk About Addiction Treatment With Your Colleagues?

You will need to coordinate your FMLA eligibility with your human resources department, if applicable. It’s entirely your decision whether to tell any other co-workers about your decision to seek addiction treatment. You can choose to keep your reasons for using medical leave a private matter, or you can be honest with your colleagues about it.

Depending on your workplace culture and the trust level you’ve established with your co-workers, you may find it freeing to tell others your story and help do your part to end the stigma surrounding substance abuse. In doing so, you might inspire them to research treatment options for themselves or a loved one.

How Your Employer Plays an Essential Role in Your Treatment Plan

By fulfilling the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act and allowing you to improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being, your employer could be saving your life and ensuring you’re a happier, healthier and more productive worker upon your return. However, completing an accredited treatment program doesn’t wipe your slate clean of any behavioral and performance issues that may have stemmed from your drug and alcohol use, such as:

  • Missed appointments
  • Unexplained absences or tardiness
  • Hygiene problems
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Inconsistent attitude  

After you get discharged from treatment and are working on your recovery, your co-workers will likely be near the top of your list of people you’ll need to make amends to.

Crucially, keep in mind that the FMLA doesn’t protect you if you’re regularly showing up at work drunk, high or hungover. When an active addiction is hindering your ability to perform your job responsibilities, your employer might choose to terminate you. If you’re eligible for medical leave under the FMLA, take advantage of it as soon as possible to start your road to recovery. If you don’t, your substance abuse problem could end up costing you your job and income.

Accredited Substance Abuse Treatment in Florida

Addiction is a multifaceted disease that affects your physical, mental and emotional well-being. If you’re living with substance misuse or a co-occurring disorder, you deserve the chance to regain your health in a loving, home-like environment.

Recovery is possible, but you can’t do it all by yourself. Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, you can enroll yourself in a qualified rehab program and return to work without fear of judgment. Learn more about what we offer at Beach House and what qualities make us one of the nation’s preeminent addiction treatment facilities by connecting with our admissions counselors.

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