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Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

When you are ready to take the first steps to get help for your substance use disorder, one common question that arises is, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” The first thing you need to remember is that substance misuse disorder is considered a medical condition, such as hypertension or diabetes. As such, rehab would be regarded as medical treatment. 

Will I Lose My Job If I Go to Rehab?

There are several protections in place that can help protect your job if you go to rehab, including:

FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)

The FMLA allows you to take unpaid leave from work for up to 12 weeks once per year. Your employer must retain your position until you return to work. Additionally, your employer must maintain any group health benefits you receive while on leave.1 

As such, you can take time off of work to go to rehab and not worry about being fired. But, you will not be paid during this time. You can use any personal time off or vacation pay you have available for income. 

However, you must request FMLA leave from your employer before you can take it. You do not have to disclose your alcohol or substance misuse. You only have to say you need leave for medical reasons. 

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

The ADA offers various protections for people in recovery, provided they are not misusing substances while at work. You must also be enrolled in a rehab treatment program. Specifically, the ADA helps protect your job because your employer cannot fire you for going to rehab.2

Even with these protections in place, it is essential to remember that if you are misusing alcohol or substances at work and your employer catches you, they do have grounds for terminating your employment. They could also fire you if your substance misuse affects your job performance. 

Can You Go to Rehab and Still Work?

Initially, you should plan on taking at least a few weeks off of work. If you do not want to request FMLA, and do not want to disclose to your employer that you are starting rehab, you could request a temporary leave for medical reasons or request vacation time. 

You want to take a few weeks off work because you will need to undergo detox, which can be challenging to do if you are still working. Instead, you want to devote your entire focus to detoxing and not have any outside distractions.

After completing detox, you can return to work and still go to rehab by enrolling in an outpatient rehab program. This type of treatment program offers you the flexibility to work. When you are not working you will either be in rehab or at home.   

Can I Collect Unemployment While I’m in Rehab?

It depends on whether you are already receiving unemployment benefits or not. You can still claim unemployment while in rehab if you are receiving unemployment benefits. However, you may still need to apply for jobs and meet other requirements to maintain your benefits. 

If you take medical leave under the FMLA, you cannot collect unemployment. You are still considered employed since your employer is holding your job for you until you return to work. However, you may qualify for assistance with paying for rehab through the ACA (Affordable Care Act). 

One of the 10 essential health benefits that must be offered through employer-sponsored insurance or coverage obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace must include coverage for substance use disorders.3 

How Am I Protected If I Go to Drug Rehab? 

You do not have to worry about your employer finding out about you going to rehab. Your health insurance provider and the rehab facility you obtain treatment from are bound by HIPPA, so they cannot disclose your treatment with your employer unless you sign a release.4

You also may be surprised to learn that rehab facilities cannot even disclose to your family any information about your rehab treatment unless you give them permission. So, if you have hidden your substance misuse from your family and want to go to rehab, they never need to know. 

What If I Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

There are some cases where you could be fired for going to rehab. For example, you do not request FMLA and do not show up for work. Your employer could terminate your position since you were a “no-call no-show.” 

Another possible cause for termination is when your employer has an existing policy about alcohol and substance misuse and has supporting evidence you misused substances while “on the clock.” Then, they can fire you. 

Outside of those exceptions, if you get fired for going to rehab, you could have grounds for a wrongful termination claim. However, you would need to seek legal advice from a qualified legal professional. 

Drug Rehab Treatment in Columbus, OH

When you are ready to start drug rehab treatment, Ohio Addiction Recovery Center in Columbus is here to help. We recommend you request FMLA from your employer for medical reasons to help avoid being fired. 

Once your medical leave is approved, we work with you to create a comprehensive and customized treatment plan, including outpatient rehab options, so you can return to work. To find out more about our drug rehab treatment programs, please feel free to contact us at 866-210-9094 and speak with an intake specialist today! 


  1. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/workhours/fmla
  2. https://adata.org/factsheet/ada-addiction-recovery-and-employment
  3. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ondcp/healthcare
  4. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/related-links/index.html

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