“I feel like a prisoner. All I’ve been doing for the past year is going to work, then coming home and drinking until I pass out.
I repeat this cycle every day.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to get the addiction treatment I need. I don’t want to lose my job.”
“My boss would fire me immediately if I tried to take time off for addiction treatment. I haven’t even been there 90 days.”
As alcoholism and drug addiction progresses, more things in life begin to unravel. The timelines may look slightly different, but most individuals who consider themselves high functioning addicts eventually reach a crossroad where they have to make a decision about treatment.
As the admissions director for Gracious Care Recovery Solutions, I talk to individuals looking for addiction treatment every day. I have found that employment is often the most difficult barrier to overcome. It’s almost easier for a person who has lost everything to ask for help, because they aren’t trying to hang on to those last shreds of normalcy, minimizing the problem and telling themselves they can (or have to) do this by themselves.
Will I Lose My Job If I Take Time Off For Addiction Treatment?
Fear of job loss and the resulting domino effect; loss of home, loss of vehicle, etc. can be too overwhelming for a person struggling with drug addiction to even think about. Unfortunately, all of those unknowns can work against the potential for recovery, and keep a person locked in the deadly cycle of addiction for years.
Looking at this question rationally, it’s safe to say that a person struggling with addiction is going to eventually lose their job anyway. Addiction is a progressive disease, so a person who only uses drugs or drinks after work is eventually going to be forced to use these substances right before work and even during the workday. This isn’t because they are irresponsible. It’s because the body becomes more and more dependent on these substances and the time frames between each use becomes shorter. A person who used to wait until after work to drink will eventually become so dependent on alcohol that they have to take a drink in the morning, just to keep their body from going into withdrawal. This is true for opiates and most other addictive substances.
Facts to Look at When Determining Your Employment Rights
Whenever I talk to someone who is afraid of losing their job, there are a couple of facts I look at first:
- How long have they been on their job? Are they full time employees?
- Are they an actual employee or an independent contractor?
- Have they already been reprimanded for being under the influence on the job or failed a drug test?
Without going into too much detail here in this blog post, I will address each one of the questions above.
Length of Employment
If a full time employee has passed their 90 day probationary period without incident, they do have a right to a leave of absence to check themselves into an addiction treatment facility. Since alcoholism and drug addiction is considered a disease, it is legally viewed no differently than taking time off for surgery or other medical procedures.
If an individual has worked for over one year, they are generally eligible for short term disability as long as the proper paperwork is filed. Our case management team at Gracious Care Recovery Solutions work with our clients to ensure all paperwork is filed in a timely manner.
Although some benefits are only available to actual employees, independent contractors do have the ability to take time off whenever they need to, and have the option of temporarily suspending their services or assigning their duties to someone else while they are away.
Failed Drug Test or Employer Suspicions
Unfortunately, when a person is in active addiction they often think they’re getting away with a lot more than they actually are. Blurred by drugs or alcohol, employees struggling with addiction actually perceive themselves as being under the radar of their employer. This is generally not true.
If you’ve been using alcohol or drugs at work, it’s safe to say that someone has witnessed your missteps. Assignments turned in late or poorly put together, slurred conversations, lapse in memory or judgement, lack of communication, late or missed work days. All of these things begin to slowly build a case against a person and will eventually lead to termination. It’s much better to stop the downhill spiral by making the call to get help and sending a letter of acceptance into treatment (provided by us) to your direct supervisor as well as your human resources director. As long as you’re past the 90 day probationary period, sending a request for leave of absence along with a letter of acceptance into treatment places your job on hold (you can’t legally be terminated). This provides you with a safe space of time to focus on yourself and receive the help you need to live a life free from addiction.
If, on the other hand, you wait until you are asked to take a drug test at work, either as part of your employment agreement or due to a mistake or accident you were involved in, you may forfeit your rights to retain your job.
The Hidden Opportunity of COVID19
The current pandemic is certainly not a reason to celebrate. It’s causing stress on the economy, anxiety within families, as well as the illness itself. As a nation, we haven’t experienced anything like this (at least not in our lifetime). Hidden within all this chaos though is a golden opportunity for anyone struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.
Has your place of employment recently closed?
Is your life on pause?
This is such an opportune time to call Gracious Care Recovery Solutions and speak to one of our recovery support specialists about our inpatient addiction treatment program. While the world is on hold, you can make the best decision of your life and use this time to get clean instead of potentially sitting at home and become even more entrenched in the cycle of addiction.
During times of extreme stress and uncertainty, individuals in active addiction are at an especially high risk to “lose hope” and self medicate at a more intense rate than before.
Don’t allow this to be your story. Do something now that your future self will thank you for.
Gracious Care Recovery Solutions is taking all necessary precautions against the coronavirus.
We are following all CDC guidelines and our current clients are safe and healthy.
Give us a call and allow us to discuss the addiction treatment opportunities that are available to you.