Know Your Rights: Taking Medical Leave for Opiate Recovery

on Friday, 12 December 2014. Posted in Breaking News

Recovery from opiate addiction can be a very painful process, and involve a lot of hard work. Addiction is an all-consuming condition that makes it impossible to live a full life, and so the recovery process is also going to be an all-consuming commitment to do whatever it takes to take care of yourself, weather out the storms of withdraw, and learn how to live a more healthy life.

Some addicts feel that this may be too high a price to pay, looking at the process with a lot of trepidation, and so stay in their addictive patterns. One of these fears is that taking time off to peruse recovery would cause you too loose a job.

Fortunately, the law has some protections so that that will not happen. Here are the details behind what your rights are, so that you can communicate your need for a recovery in a way that will protect you and your livelihood.

What the Americans with Disability Act says about addicts receiving treatment

First of all, your employer has every reason to be positively disposed to your recovery process. Even if you feel like your addiction has not been affecting your job performance, your employer will greatly benefit from your sobriety, and the increased alertness and intelligence it will bring.

However, if he or she isn't supportive, the law is on your side. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a far-reaching law that protects employees from getting fired on the basis of a number of physical or mental health conditions that may get in the way of their job performance.

While current drug users are not protected under the ADA, those seeking rehabilitation are. This means that you are at risk for being fired because of your prescription drug abuse, but not for your recovery.

In addition, the law specifically mandates time off for recovery as an option an employer can not prohibit for you. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to grant workers a minimum of 12 weeks paid or unpaid leave for health-care related reasons.

The law specifically considers rehab and addiction recovery one of these legitimate reasons. In other words, it is against the law for you to be fired for taking time off for recovery. You should feel totally free about doing whatever you need to support your recovery.

You need the time to work on your own healing, and anything that reduces your worry about other things will be a very helpful resource. The law to fire you for taking time off to attend rehab. Keep in mind though that the FMLA has a required process of requesting a leave of absence.

So make sure you are open with your employer ahead of time, rather then waiting to go to a treatment facility before requesting the time off.

There are some exceptions to this, in some jobs which either have close access to narcotics, or in which even a recovering addict would be putting him or her self or others at risk. These are generally limited to high-intensity jobs like hospital work, but even in these situations, compromised can be worked out.

For example, a nurse fired after stealing medication for her own use may be re-hired in another department and required to give regular drug tests.

Suggestions for seeking help while employed

Check out your company's health care and Employee Assistance Program. As this is an urgent medical need, and one your employer should taken an interest in, these can be very useful resources in finding ways to support your recovery.

EAP services in particularly are very attractive to employers, and save a lot for the company's bottom line by ensuring a drug-free workplace. Communicating openly with your employer about your needs for recovery will go a long way towards helping you get the care you need.

 

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