Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

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If you’re struggling with addiction and decide to seek help by going to rehab, you may worry about the potential consequences of taking time off work. In this situation, it is common to wonder, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?

Of the 46.3 million U.S. adults who reported diagnosable addictions in 2021, only 5 million engaged with any form of treatment. Concerns about getting fired for going to rehab are among the main reasons for this significant treatment gap.

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For those still asking themselves, “Can I be fired for going to rehab”, learn how the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) may offer protection from being fired if you need rehab for alcoholism (alcohol use disorder) or drug addiction (substance use disorder).

Can You Be Fired for Going to Rehab?

Can you get fired from your job for going to rehab, then?

Fortunately, there are protections in place to prevent this from happening. If drug or alcohol abuse is impairing your professional performance, it may be grounds for termination. That said, the ADA and the FMLA offer protection for those seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) has also made significant strides in expanding insurance coverage for addiction treatment and recovery. Before the ACA, insurance providers could deny coverage or set limitations on addiction treatment, making it difficult for those fighting addiction to receive the care they need. The ACA requires insurance providers to cover addiction treatment and services at the same level as other medical treatments, including coverage for MAT (medication-assisted treatment), outpatient therapy, and inpatient rehab, otherwise known as residential rehab.

Under the FMLA, employees can take up to three months of unpaid leave to engage in treatment for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder without fear of losing their job. During this time, employees retain access to group healthcare benefits to help defray treatment costs.

The ADA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who have attended rehab or are in recovery from addiction. Employers cannot refuse to hire, promote, or fire someone for attending rehab or having a history of substance abuse or addiction.

If you are thinking about entering rehab for substance abuse, it’s vital to know your rights. When informing your employer about your need for leave under the FMLA, you are not obligated to disclose your diagnosis. You should, though, offer enough information to illustrate that your leave is related to a condition protected under the FMLA. Be honest and straightforward with your employer about your situation, reinforce your commitment to getting better, and adhere to your company’s policy for requesting a leave of absence.

Affordable Care Act

The ACA (Affordable Care Act), informally known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010 to provide more affordable and accessible healthcare for U.S. citizens. The ACA’s impact on addiction treatment and recovery has been notable, with the law expanding insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment.

Before the ACA, insurance providers could deny coverage for addiction treatment or set limitations on coverage, making it challenging for those struggling with addictions to receive the care they need. The ACA requires insurance providers to cover addiction treatment and services at the same level as other medical treatments.

Additionally, the ACA expanded Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income Americans, which has substantially increased access to addiction treatment for those who may not have been able to afford it previously.

The ACA also includes provisions for the prevention of addiction, such as providing resources for schools to educate students about the dangers of drug use and supporting research on effective prevention strategies.

Despite the benefits of the ACA for addiction treatment and recovery, there have been efforts to repeal or weaken the law in recent years. Thankfully, the law remains in effect, and those seeking addiction treatment can still access the coverage they need to recover.

FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)

The FMLA was passed into law in 1993 with the aim of protecting individuals who require time off work to deal with a serious health complication, whether for themselves or a family member. FMLA leave is applicable for the following conditions:

  • Alcoholism rehab
  • Drug addiction rehab
  • Treatment for physical complications like liver failure that are caused by substance abuse

The FMLA prohibits any employer from firing or demoting someone who utilizes FMLA leave to seek addiction treatment at a drug or alcohol rehab.

Under the FMLA, it may be possible to take up to three months of leave to engage in addiction treatment without fear of losing your job. Leave is unpaid and is not reimbursable, although you will still have access to your group healthcare benefits during your time off.

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Americans with Disabilities Act

In 1990, the ADA was passed into law, intending to protect employees with addictions from discrimination. Due to the ADA, employers are now legally prohibited from engaging in these discriminating behaviors: 

  1. Refusing to hire a person because they engaged in addiction treatment.
  2. Refusing to promote someone because they engaged in addiction treatment.
  3. Firing a person for going to rehab.
  4. Firing a person for previously attending rehab.
  5. Firing or refusing to hire or promote a person with a history of addiction.

When planning to enter an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment facility, it’s important to know your rights and how to communicate with your employer. Here are some tips on what to tell your employer if you need to go to rehab

  • Plan carefully: Choose a time and location where you can have a private conversation with your employer. Ensure that you have all relevant information about your absence to hand. Be aware of the addiction treatment policies at your company.
  • Be honest: Be transparent about your situation. Inform your employer that you need time off to tackle a personal issue and that you’re heading to rehab to get an appropriate level of care.
  • Emphasize your commitment to your employer: Make sure your employer knows that you’re committed to getting better and that rehab is a vital part of your recovery process. You can also reassure them that you’ll do everything you can to minimize disruptions while you’re away.
  • Keep things simple: You don’t need to divulge too many details about your situation. Instead, focus on the time off work you require to attend rehab.
  • Stick to company policy: Make sure you follow your company’s policy for requesting a leave of absence. Provide any documentation requested and follow any procedures in place to ensure a smooth transition while you’re away.
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Executive Rehab at California Detox

You should now be clear about the issue “Can a job fire for going to rehab” and you should also be confident that the care you need is within reach.

At California Detox, we offer executive rehab programs for all types of addictions, mental health conditions, and co-occurring disorders at our luxury beachside treatment facility.

If you require assistance with drug or alcohol withdrawal, engage with a supervised medical detoxification program at California Detox. Access medications and continuous care to ensure that detoxing is as safe and comfortable as possible. You can then transition directly into an inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment program at our Laguna Beach executive rehab.

 All treatment programs at California Detox draw from a combination of evidence-based interventions and holistic treatments that include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • MAT
  • Group counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Holistic therapies
  • Aftercare

When you are ready to commit to recovery, we can help you from detox to discharge and beyond at our executive rehab in Laguna Beach, CA. Call 949.694.8305 today.


Addiction (substance use disorder) is not automatically considered a disability, but some people with addiction may qualify for disability benefits if their addiction significantly impacts their ability to work or carry out daily activities.
In some cases, alcoholism (alcohol use disorder) may be considered a protected disability under certain laws and regulations, such as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), if it significantly limits a person’s functioning and life activities. That said, not all cases of alcohol use disorder qualify as a disability under the ADA or other laws.


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