Can the Family Medical Leave Act Help You Make the Decision to Enter Rehab?
You know you have an addiction.
You also know you cannot quit on your own. The thought of getting treatment is in the back of your mind, but how will you do so?
Increasingly, men and women in need of substance use disorder treatment have children, jobs, and a life to support. Taking a few weeks off for treatment doesn’t seem possible at first. However, it’s possible to take advantage of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to protect your job for treatment.
Protecting Your Job While Heading into Rehab
An estimated 24.6 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have an illicit drug addiction. That’s up from 8.3 percent in 2002, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription painkillers and access to highly addictive drugs like heroin are creating a growing epidemic in the U.S. Yet, there is help available.
You don’t have to fear losing your job if you take the right steps to protect it and you enter into a true alcohol or drug addiction program. FMLA is a federal program allows people to access the care they need without the risk of losing their job while doing so.
The law, put into place in 1993, provides you with specific support including up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you meet the qualifications. Among the qualifications is the need to care for yourself (or someone in your immediate family) that is seriously ill. It allows you to seek out help for drug or alcohol addiction through a licensed medical treatment center.
During this official time frame, you cannot:
- Lose your job
- Lose your benefits
- Lose your position within the job
There are some requirements to be eligible for FMLA.
- Your employer must be qualified. (Usually businesses that have over 50 employees are required to recognize FMLA.)
- You must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months.
- You must have worked at least 1,250 hours during that time.
Take Advantage of FMLA to Get the Help You Need
Addiction is a recognized physical and mental disease. As a result, it must be taken seriously by doctors, care providers, and insurance companies.
To qualify for FMLA protection, you must follow your human resource officer’s notification policy. Most often, you will find these organizations understand that allow you to get this help ensures you can be a better employee. Some employers even provide supportive services to help you get the care you need.
The other side of FMLA is that it works to support a healthy working environment. Prior to this law being put into place, the United States Commission on Civil Rights found that as many as 25 percent of employees came to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That puts everyone at risk. By supporting FMLA, employers create a safer workplace that tends to be more productive as well.
Getting the Support You Need
Because FMLA is present, it means you have the opportunity to get the support you need now. This may include enrolling into a detox program, getting the inpatient treatment you need, and then securing ongoing aftercare. During those 12 weeks, you have the opportunity to improve your health and wellbeing, potentially becoming a healthier person and the best version of yourself.
It’s true that 12 weeks may not be enough for you to recover fully, but it is enough time to get sober and gain important coping skills for day-to-day life. This includes obtaining life skills to manage stress, handle trauma from your past, and gain insight into how to avoid triggers. It also gives you enough time to begin intensive outpatient treatment. During that process, you’ll be able to work on rebuilding your day-to-day life.
Though FMLA isn’t paid, it does protect your benefits for the long term. Ask yourself an important question. If you continue doing what you are doing right now—using drugs or alcohol, going to work high, or simply not completing your responsibilities as your employer expects—will you have a job after 12 weeks? By completing a treatment program, you can enter onto the path of recovery without threat to your position.
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