Unfortunately, it can be very common to neglect seeking treatment while holding down a job. Even when you know you need help, you may resist doing so for various reasons.
You may find that you are avoiding treatment because you are worried about stigma and job loss as well as future discrimination against you. Coming back to work after detox, rehab, and recovery can be daunting. When you return to work, you are protected by guidelines and policies in place thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA). These protections are based on each individual and specific case. To receive protection under ADA, you must clarify what your “disability” is and if it limits your ability to do your job. If there is any impairment that makes it impossible to do the job, reasonable accommodation must be made to help you be successful without it reflecting poorly on your job performance.
If necessary, you may receive additional training, and also be given adequate information to be up to speed in your job role after your absence. Under the FMLA, you do not have to explain why you were absent from your job. Many companies embrace and support a desire for treatment and feel that employees should receive support and any help they need to return to their job in a healthy state, even if the treatment requires a longer stay. Being away in treatment gives you a break from the stress of a normal workday. When you come back to work, those stresses will still be there; but, hopefully, you will have learned new tools to deal with those stresses.
- Call The Job Accommodation Network (JAN). They offer free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues
- Determine any needed accommodation with your employer, including time off for outpatient support and therapy
- Contact Human Resources to determine if you will need to certify your leave. Certifying your leave means having your treatment team certify for your employer that your leave is medically necessary.
- Use your company’s employee assistance program (EAP). This is an important resource that will help you manage any employment-related transitions.
- First, speak to your Human Resources director to attempt to resolve any potential conflict.
- An ADA specialist may help you decide if you have been discriminated against and help you find a solution.
- You can also file a complaint against your employer if you feel your employer has violated the law.
Strategies for Success
- Plan what you will say to co-workers when you return
- Decide which co-workers you can count on for support
- Your employer can be an ally if they know what is going on, let them help in the transition
- Determine triggers at work and get help making an action plan to deal with them
- Make sure that you have an aftercare treatment plan and that you follow it
- Remember self-care to avoid burnout or burnout relapse
- Your support network wants you to succeed. Stay connected to the people in your support network, do not isolate
While in the workplace, it can be easy to struggle silently with SUD no matter where you are in the recovery journey. If you are struggling, make use of the tools at your disposal such as your EAP, agencies waiting to help, your aftercare plan, and your support network. Aftercare will allow your transition back to the workforce to go much smoother. Before you are back to work, your aftercare plan can help you plan for your outpatient responsibilities so that you will be prepared beforehand. Make sure you have a plan for what you will do if you are burning out, isolating, or facing any other relapse triggers before they happen to protect your long-term goals for sobriety.
Do not be afraid to have a “Return-to-work agreement.” This agreement protects you and your employer both, and spells out expectations for both sides. Your return-to-work agreement is supposed to be confidential, and so are any communications about it between you and your employer. Use this agreement as a tool to keep you accountable for your job, and also for your sobriety. It is important to remember that many people have successfully returned to the world of employment.
If you are dealing with uncomfortable experiences, you can always reach out to your peer support, who can help you with the tools that helped them. Do not isolate yourself, use all your tools, and keep your attitude positive. This is a great step forward in the journey that is the rest of your life.
Returning to work after being in rehab and in recovery is very daunting whether you are returning to an old job or seeking new employment. Vanity Wellness Center can help you face your fears about returning to work and help you successfully navigate your return to employment. Think of the time you are away as a break from daily stress at a facility capable of giving you new tools to not only deal with stress but with life in general. Stay connected to your support system and remember the guidance you had in rehab can be reinforced by continuing care in a safe environment with outpatient support. Returning to work opens an opportunity to use all the tools you have been given and to deepen your commitment to sobriety surrounded by your support system. Stay positive and call Vanity Wellness for any help that you need! (866) 587-1737.