Rehab is an invaluable resource for those living with substance use disorders. It teaches healthy coping mechanisms and vital life skills for maintaining sobriety. Despite this, only about 15 percent of people with substance use disorder receive addiction treatment. Many stop because of the question, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” and the subsequent worry that they would lose their jobs if they sought help.

The truth is, there are federal laws in place designed to protect those who seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. They prohibit employers from discriminating based on most types of substance use and often require the granting of time off for someone to pursue treatment. Find out more about these laws below.

The Stigma of Addiction and Rehab

The Stigma of Addiction and Rehab

One of the reasons people ask, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” involves the prevalence of harsh stigma surrounding the topic. The way the public looks at and speaks about addiction can make those who deal with it feel ashamed, guilty, and disgraced. Some may even try to keep their substance use a secret to avoid these feelings, which means they also refuse to get help.

Judgements made by other people aren’t the only source of negativity regarding rehab. Self-stigma, or internalized feelings of shame and inadequacy, can be just as challenging to face as public stigma. After all, it’s possible to evade the eyes of others, but it’s much harder to ignore one’s own degrading thoughts.


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Some people believe that they should be able to overcome their substance use disorder on their own, and that needing help would make them weak. This is false; people who go to rehab are far from weak. In fact, it takes tremendous strength to admit when one’s substance use has become a problem and to open that vulnerability to others.

Furthermore, the tendency to avoid talking about substance abuse treatment means that, for many, it’s still shrouded in mystery. Some people aren’t sure whether rehab even works. Others don’t know if they can afford it, or if their health insurance would cover it.

There’s no shame in asking such questions. In fact, it’s important to do so. Staying informed about your options is one of the best ways to prepare for the brightest possible future. Luckily, we at Heroes’ Mile are here to provide the answers to all of your questions.

Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

Regardless of an employer’s personal preconceptions about addiction and rehab, they must operate within the realm of law. So, what is the law? Legally, can you get fired for going to rehab?

In most cases, no. Provided you meet their qualifications, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensure that an individual can get the help they need without putting their job at stake.

However, there are a few specifications and limitations to these acts to discuss as well. It’s important to know your rights and understand what you are entitled to as an employee in the United States.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is a law protecting those with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. It considers substance use disorder a disability if it severely limits one’s major life activities, such as caring for oneself, working, or neurological functions. Someone is also protected under the ADA if they demonstrate a history of one such disorder or are regarded as having one.

It’s important to note that the ADA approaches drug and alcohol addictions differently. Regarding drug addictions, the ADA does not protect those currently partaking in the illegal use of drugs. It only applies to those in recovery who can show that they’re no longer using those drugs illegally. On the other hand, the ADA does protect those living with alcohol addiction, whether past or present.

In practice, the ADA applies to all stages of a job, from the application process to on-the-job experiences. It prohibits employers from refusing to hire, punishing, or firing someone on the sole basis of their substance use. This includes being in recovery and taking medications to aid their progress.

That being said, it is not discrimination for an employer to reject, punish, or fire someone for a reason unrelated to their substance use. If someone is unable to do the job, fails to meet its requirements, or violates established workplace rules, they can still be held accountable and to the same standards as their fellow employees.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

While the ADA may ease one’s worries about being fired due to their substance use, it may not entirely answer the question, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” Some people don’t know how they could balance work and rehab, and they harbor concerns about getting fired from missing work to go to treatment.

The United States Department of Labor, which is responsible for the regulation and promotion of healthy working conditions, can put some of those fears to rest through the FMLA. In short, the FMLA is a law providing certain employees with the option to take family and medical leave in response to specific “qualifying events.”

One such event is the “inability to work because of a serious health condition.” The FMLA places substance use disorder under this category when it makes it difficult or impossible to complete your work. In short, you may be eligible to use FMLA to protect your job while going to a veteran rehab.

An employee also needs to meet a set of additional qualifications in order to be eligible for leave under the FMLA. They must:

  • work for a covered employer;
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months leading up to their leave;
  • work for an employer with at least 50 employees within 75 miles; and
  • have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (non-consecutively)

If an employee meets all of the above criteria, they may request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In the context of addiction, however, they are only entitled to a leave of absence if they utilize it to pursue treatment. Absences due to the use of a substance are not protected or eligible for leave under the FMLA. This means that you can use FMLA to go to rehab, but you cannot use it to stay home and binge drink or use illegal drugs.

Going to rehab is crucial for those looking to recover from substance use disorder. The FMLA provides many people with the opportunity to start treatment with the comfort of knowing their jobs will remain secure.

Addiction Treatment for Veterans

Heroes’ Mile offers the highest quality addiction treatment for veterans. If you’ve decided it’s time to get help for substance use disorder, our team of licensed physicians and addiction specialists are ready to guide you toward recovery.

Depending on your exact situation and needs, treatment programs you may encounter include:

These treatment programs consist of a variety of evidence-based addiction treatments. We recognize that everyone’s experience with substance use disorder is different. Therefore, your exact recovery plan will develop based on your unique relationship with drugs or alcohol.

Addiction Treatment Options

In all our treatment plans, we work to emphasize the importance of learning healthy coping methods to boost skills like emotion management, problem solving, and interpersonal communication. Recovery should be about more than just sobriety. We want to help our veterans transition back to an everyday life they’re excited to lead.

To accomplish that, Heroes’ Mile utilizes treatment options such as:

Our extensive, diverse approach to addiction treatment targets all facets of substance use disorder, from those that affect physical health to those that impact relationships. We build comprehensive plans for every individual in our care and always maintain their long-term goals as our top priority.

Contact Heroes’ Mile Today

Heroes’ Mile is a veterans-exclusive addiction treatment center in DeLand, Florida. With treatment programs built for veterans by veterans, we provide specialized care capable of meeting the unique needs of your post-military life.

Our veterans on staff understand your experiences because they’ve lived those experiences themselves. They can help you achieve recovery through common ground, which is something no civilian treatment facilities can offer.

Whether you have additional questions about federal laws beyond “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” or you’re ready to tackle your substance use disorder, we want to hear from you. Call our admissions experts at 888-838-6692 or submit a confidential contact form today. We’ll make sure you get the resources you need for long-term success.


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