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family medical leave act

How to Take Medical Leave From Work: Know Your Rights

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Over 75% of people with substance abuse problems in need of treatment are employed. Out of fear of losing their job or being judged by their coworkers, many avoid getting help even when they are desperate for it. The stigma around drug and alcohol abuse, as well as lack of knowledge of personal rights, should never be a factor in avoiding rehab. The truth is, if addiction gets bad enough, you will inevitably harm your career more than taking the time of to recover would. Taking the time to get proper treatment could actually help your career, and give you the opportunity to advance and grow in your professional life once sober.

Don’t allow fear of career jeopardization or stigmatization halt your potential for a sober life. Know your rights, get to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and give yourself a chance for recovery.

ADA Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Acts does not allow for discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA does in fact allow employers to ensure a drug free environment but it protects recovering addicts from discrimination when it is proven they are seeking treatment/ have went through rehabilitation previously and remained sober. If an employer does not follow this regulatory law, you may file a charge of charge of discrimination with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are legally entitled to take 12 work-weeks of unpaid job protected leave for medical reasons if you qualify, which drug and alcohol abuse does. This allows for sufficient rehabilitation time and a job to go back too. Drug and alcohol addiction are legally considered a disease and therefore qualify for medical leave.

Employee Assistant Programs

Employee Assistant Programs are individual programs put in place by employees or larger corporations designed to offer help with personal problems when needed. Most of these programs cover drug and alcohol addiction treatment including rehab and counseling.


Though less common, it may be possible to collect disability social security if you qualify. In order to collect you must prove three things: You make less than the income limit (approx: 1000), your disability will last longer than a year, and your disability impacts your ability to perform your job. Whether or not you will receive disability checks and to what amount will vary person to person depending on the severity of their addiction and any other external factors. This option is a more severe one, but if you feel like you need it and qualify, you can apply through the united states government.  

If you are in or seeking treatment, especially under a MAT program (Medicated-Assisted Treatment) it is illegal to discriminate against you under the following:

-Americans with disabilities

-Rehabilitation Act of 1973

-Fair Housing Act (FHA)

-Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

are you covered

Who Exactly Is Protected?

The non-discriminatory laws mentioned above protect those who are “disabled” by their disease. Most often, individuals in a MAT program are considered to have a disability, and many in a non-medicated treatment addiction program are as well. Terms of someone with a disability are:

-Current mental or physical impairment

-Has a record of substantially limiting impairment

-Is regarded as having such impairment

If you are protected, an employer cannot deny a job offer because you are in treatment, and must accommodate you while seeking treatment if already an employee.

Who is Not Protected?

Any individual who is currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs is not protected by any of these laws. If you are still using drugs, you are not considered disabled and are exempt from any and all rights in regards to employment.

Where To Start?

If you want to take leave from work, the first thing you need to do is be honest with your employer. If you don’t say anything and out of nowhere send them a leave of absence notice, it’s not going to look good. Even if by law they allow you to come back, you don’t want to harm your relationship with your employers in the process. Open up, be honest, tell them you want to better yourself so you can perform better at your job. They will appreciate the honesty, the courage, and welcome you back much smoother. Not as cases will go as smoothly as they should, so know your rights, stand up for them, and get the help you deserve.

Recovery Is Possible

If you or a loved one is seeking sobriety, take the first step to creating a happy and healthy life.  With help from the professionals at Elevations Health, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible. So call us today at 1-866-200-3224 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Elevation Health.

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