Can You Get Fired For Going To Inpatient Drug Rehab?

Some people refuse inpatient drug rehab because they fear it will cost them their jobs. However, federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can help you stay employed while you receive inpatient treatment.

During inpatient drug rehab, you live at an addiction treatment center and receive comprehensive, round-the-clock care. You typically stay in the program between 30 and 90 days, depending on the center and your needs. 

Some people avoid this type of treatment because they fear it will cost them their jobs. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to stay employed while getting the care you need.

Can You Get Fired For Going To Inpatient Drug Rehab?

In most cases, no. Two federal laws can protect you from getting fired for attending inpatient drug rehab. These laws are the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

To keep your job secure, it’s important to understand how these laws work.

The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for employees experiencing certain life events. These events include:

  • caring for a newborn child
  • caring for a newly adopted or fostered child
  • caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
  • seeking treatment for a serious health condition, including substance use disorder (drug or alcohol addiction)


To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must:

  • work at a business or public agency that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
  • have worked for your employer for at least 12 months
  • have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months

Your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or refuse your promotion if you use FMLA leave to attend a substance abuse treatment program.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you don’t qualify for FMLA leave, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may help you keep your job while in rehab. 

This law protects people with disabilities from discrimination. It defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Addiction is included under this definition. 

Reasonable Accommodations

All companies with at least 15 employees must comply with the ADA by providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. 

In some cases, a temporary leave of absence to attend inpatient rehab may count as a reasonable accommodation. If not, you could request to adjust your work schedule so you can attend outpatient rehab.

In either case, under the ADA, your employer cannot fire you simply for disclosing your addiction or for seeking addiction treatment. 

However, the ADA will not prevent you from getting fired if you use illegal drugs or if your drug use negatively affects your work performance. 

Other Laws That Protect Employees With Addiction

Even if the FMLA or ADA projects your job during rehab, you might fear you will damage your reputation xby telling your employer about your addiction. 

However, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your employer cannot share your medical information, including your decision to seek inpatient rehab. That means no one else will know why you took a leave of absence. 

You may also worry that your employer-sponsored health insurance won’t cover your addiction treatment. Luckily, under the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA), employers must offer the same type of health insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders that they offer for any other medical conditions.  

Similarly, the ADA lists mental health and addiction services as one of the ten essential health benefits under employer-sponsored insurance plans. 

Preparing For Inpatient Drug Rehab

If you plan to request job-protected leave, do so as soon as possible to make the process easier for your employer. Also, make sure your colleagues know how to cover your duties in your absence.

In addition, consider your financial situation. As mentioned above, FMLA leave is unpaid. Any non-FMLA leave that you request under the ADA may also be unpaid. 

To prepare for this lack of income, you may want to cut out unnecessary expenses, ask loved ones for help, or talk to a financial advisor. 

Returning To Work After Inpatient Drug Rehab

When you return from an inpatient rehab program, you may face work-related triggers that increase your risk of relapse. Common triggers include stress, boredom, and conversations about alcohol or drug use. 

In rehab, you will learn skills to help you cope with these triggers, such as meditating, journaling, and listing the reasons you decided to get sober.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

To make your transition back to work even easier, check if your workplace has an employee assistance program (EAP). 

These programs offer free, confidential support services for employees facing personal challenges, including addiction recovery. These services may include short-term counseling, crisis management, and referrals to support groups or outpatient programs.

You should also consider requesting ADA-approved accommodations such as:

  • a more flexible work schedule so you can spend more time in support groups or outpatient treatment
  • more frequent breaks
  • the option to work from home

These accommodations can help you succeed at work without risking your recovery.

To learn more about inpatient rehab, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based treatment options to help you or your loved one stay sober.

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  2. United States Commission on Civil Rights
  3. United States Department of Labor

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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