How to Go to Rehab Without Losing Your Job

You have a right to get treatment for your mental and behavioral health, and your employer cannot fire you for going to rehab. However, your job and your life may be on the line for other reasons. Consider these tips for approaching treatment urgently and responsibly, and take the next step forward to reclaim your life.

What should you fear from going to rehab?

Yes, going to rehab for drug or alcohol abuse will demand some change. But consider that positive changes, even when they require significant effort and certain sacrifices, are not worth the wasted energy of resistance.

What should you fear from not going to rehab?

This question carries with it heavier implications for your present and your future. In fact, there’s no end to the potential damage substance abuse can cause when left untreated. If you think about all of the things and relationships and opportunities you have to lose in life—your chances of losing them are much greater if you choose the route of neglecting the problem.

The more you know, the more you’ll be ready for and comfortable with the rehab path. So, let’s talk about how to go to rehab without losing your job and the unique life you’ve created.

Can You Lose Your Job for Going to Rehab?

It is against the law for an employer to fire you for going to rehab. And reasons like reputation or suspicion or fear are not grounds for lawful termination. Neither is the inconvenience nor the expense of your time spent in rehab legitimate reason for an employer to dismiss you. However, if your substance use has led to behaviors that affect your job performance or otherwise upset the organization or its resources, your employer may have a lawful reason to fire you.

In other words, for similar reasons that you might be terminated even when substance use is not involved, you can be terminated when substance use plays a role.

The following transgressions, as well as many others, can still be grounds for your dismissal:

  • Tardiness
  • Absences
  • Negligence
  • Missed deadlines
  • Inappropriate behaviors
  • Harassment
  • Insubordination

Intoxication is certainly not an excuse for any misconduct. On the other hand, taking responsibility for your needs and getting treatment for your substance abuse sooner rather than later is the most responsible and commendable course of action. The law protects your right to take full and reasonable care of your mental and behavioral health.

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Tips for How to Go to Rehab Without Losing Your Job

It’s possible for your transitions in and out of rehab to be smooth and positive. Keep in mind these tips as you lay a foundation for recovery in all areas of your life.

  1. Get help early—before you make a grievous mistake under the influence that could reasonably cost you your job.
  2. Choose a treatment center where you’ll be able to focus entirely on your treatment, thereby kickstarting your recovery as efficiently as possible.
  3. Choose a treatment center that has a solid and comprehensive after-care strategy so you’ll be supported in moving forward with positive change even after your time in rehab comes to an end.
  4. Communicate with the admission staff about any concerns you have regarding your job or other responsibilities while in rehab.
  5. Discuss with treatment staff any work responsibilities that you really cannot leave to someone else. There are likely ways of fulfilling these specific tasks without compromising your treatment progress. But consider that your recovery is a pivotal priority, and the more you can focus your undivided attention there, the better.
  6. Communicate with your employer early and often about the status of your admissions process and any projected timelines. The center’s admission staff can help you to address these conversations and details.
  7. Be open to learning new strategies for coping with stress so that, in the future, you’ll be able to turn to real solutions other than substance use.


You have plenty of support as you work to put all of the important pieces of treatment together. If at any point you are feeling uncertain about what’s next, your treatment center can help to steer you in the right direction.

Taking the Next Right Step Toward Recovery

It’s true that some things will need to step aside for you to focus on your health and recovery. You will be setting the job aside. You may be leaving behind your family and other loved ones to put the treatment journey in motion. And you may be hesitant to approach this unfamiliar horizon in the first place. Your concerns make good sense, but don’t let them stand in the way of doing the next right thing and recovering your life.

Even for the sake of many of these obstacles, there is specific and considerate support available. Treatment staff can work with you to troubleshoot any work-related challenges. Integrated family programming allows those closest to you to learn all about what your recovery entails, how they can prioritize their own needs, and how they can be the best possible support system for you too. And while you may not be able to imagine what rehab will be like, you may be able to imagine your best possible life not threatened by the risks of substance abuse. There is no better time than now to start moving forward.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.