Second only to your decision to seek professionals addiction treatment is deciding how to integrate that choice into your life. Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction brings with it the fear of people finding out about your struggle. While close friends and family members may already know, you may be worried about what will happen if people at your job learn that you’re in rehab. We’ve compiled the following guide to help address many of the common questions and concerns we hear from professionals looking for addiction treatment.
Many people struggling with the disease of addiction do not seek professional help because of fear of workplace discrimination. However, drug and alcohol treatment for professionals is completely confidential. No one needs to know unless you choose to tell them. Additionally, your job is protected under The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can’t be fired for being in rehab. The Americans with Disabilities Act may protect you also. The ADA states that an employee with a qualifying condition cannot be fired for seeking treatment. Under ADA guidelines, chemical dependency can be considered a disability. This means that if you use vacation time to seek drug and alcohol treatment, and your boss finds out, you can’t be terminated from your job. However, this does not protect you from being fired for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work.
Addiction Treatment Programs For Professionals
There are a number of different drug and alcohol treatment options available to professionals today. Typically an individual will transition between more than one treatment type throughout their recovery journey.
PHP Professionals Outpatient Treatment
The Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is the most intensive type of outpatient treatment available. This is probably the least convenient options for professionals seeking outpatient rehab. This is because it requires you to participate in full day sessions ( 9am-4pm), or partial day sessions (9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm) on a daily basis Monday through Friday. It’s a very structured program that occupies much of your time with medication detox, group therapy, one on one counseling, and holistic therapy.
This level of care often only lasts for a few weeks but depending on the individual’s needs, it can last as long as a couple of months. While this is the most restrictive type of outpatient program, it is preferable to inpatient treatment for many working professionals as it allows continued access to phone and emails during lunch and before/after PHP treatment each day.
IOP Professionals Outpatient Treatment
The Intensive Outpatient Program offers much more flexibility for professionals than PHP. IOP addiction treatment allows you to get the help you need while continuing to meet your work and family obligations. IOP consists of 9 hours of treatment a week – 3 half days (9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm). This type of treatment is recommended for people with a strong support system and many times comes as a step down for someone starting in PHP.
Evening Outpatient Treatment
This type of IOP program is tailor made for business professionals – so much so that it is often referred to as professionals treatment. In evening outpatient, you are able to meet all your daily obligations and only come into treatment 3 nights a week from 6pm until 9pm. This allows you to maintain all, or part, of your daily work schedule while you get the treatment you need. Read our guide on evening outpatient treatment for more detailed information.
This level of therapy is the last part of the outpatient treatment step down process. It’s reserved for professionals that have stabilized in other levels of treatment and are transitioning out of treatment. It involves 1 hour of one on one counseling with a therapist each week, along with an optional 2 hours of group therapy. Continued accountability and involvement in 12-step meetings is strongly encouraged during this level of drug and alcohol treatment.
Expectations While In Treatment
Those participating in an outpatient program are less strictly monitored and have much more free time. Since they may find themselves in situations where alcohol is available, this type of treatment isn’t recommended for those who can’t be honest, or for those who aren’t completely dedicated to their recovery.
While outpatient treatment does rely on an honor system, many such programs also establish certain expectations of participants. If an individual can’t comply with these guidelines, their treatment will more than likely end in failure.
- Submit to an Intake Assessment – This means being willing to discuss your alcohol consumption habits honestly and openly.
- Discuss Emotions Freely – A large part of successful treatment is identifying underlying psychological problems that may be contributing to the addiction. For this reason, you must be able to talk about your mental state, including moods and emotions, freely.
- A Willingness to Learn – Being open also means accepting that you don’t know everything about addiction. You should be open to learning new concepts and new methods for coping with stress.
- Establish Boundaries – This is where your exposure to alcohol will be tested. You will have to set your own boundaries and abide by them, if you expect to prevent a relapse.
Benefits of Outpatient Treatment For Professionals
While outpatient treatment carries more responsibilities with it, it also provides a wealth of benefits. Finding a professionals outpatient treatment center like The Summit Wellness Group allows one to maintain their family connections, keep their jobs, and meet their financial obligations. Some of the additional benefits of participating in professionals addiction treatment on an outpatient basis are as follows:
- Lower cost than inpatient programs
- Flexible scheduling
- Ability to maintain and broaden a system of support
- Applying concepts learned in therapy to real world situations
- Getting family and friends involved in your therapy
Treatment and Your Job
Many alcoholics will need to drink every day and may drink at work, before work or on their lunch breaks. Likewise, many addicts use drugs at work or binge on the weekends or at nights, their useage but usage during or after work has negative direct and indirect consequences on their work performance and/or their employer. Many people in active addiction show up for work late often and frequently call out for a day or more at a time. When you go to work the next day, you are tired and less productive. Drinking can cause you to have a negative attitude at work and make you irritable with co-workers. Although this type of behavior does not cause one to lose their career overnight, over time the effects of addiction can cause you to get terminated.
Laws Regarding Work and Treatment
Professionals who suffer from a substance abuse addiction are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both of these ensure that people with addictions do not lose the job that sustains them if they need treatment.
When you choose to enter a business professionals addiction rehabilitation program, you cannot be fired even if you do not go to work. If you are by any chance fired, you can file a charge against your employer. This applies to any employer with more than 15 workers. Employers are required to remain confidential on your case. This will ensure that your workplace reputation is intact.
Qualified employees can use 12 weeks of medical leave for treatment each year. This is a non-paid leave unless the employer decides to pay. In this case, you can apply for disability benefits until treatment is over and then go back to work. Only employees who make less than the average of $1,000 per month have the right to use disability benefits.
It’s highly recommended that you notify your employer about addiction treatment. Often times the rehab center can assist in this process. Even if you can squeeze in your work hours between outpatient sessions, the withdrawal symptoms may show up during work and lower your performance. If your employer knows about your rehabilitation program, they will not dismiss you from your job because of lower work performance. Since you are protected by law, no one except you and your employer will know about your ongoing treatment.
How to Tell Your Employer You’re Going to Rehab
There may be some point in your treatment when it’s necessary to tell your boss that you’re in rehab. This can be a daunting task. However, it may not be as bad as it seems up front. You’ll probably even feel relieved once it’s out in the open. Here are some tips to make that talk a little easier.
- If your company has an HR department, talk to your human resources manager first. They’re meant to act as an advocate for employees, and they can advise about how to proceed. You may even want to have your HR manager present when you meet with your boss.
- Know what your rights are. The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave for anyone who has been employed at a company for more than one year, and who has worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous month period.
- Have a plan going in. This includes ideas on how to cover your schedule during your absence and having answers ready for any questions you boss might have about your recovery.
- Realize that your employer and co-workers may already know that you’re having problems. If your substance use has reached levels that cause you to seek treatment, your behavior and work performance may already be affected. Don’t be surprised if you find that your employer is supportive and relieved that you’re getting help.
- Don’t allow fear to keep you from being honest. Coming to terms with your addiction is part of the recovery process. However, you aren’t required to tell anyone that you’re in professionals addiction treatment.
Your Job After Treatment
Once you complete treatment, you may have to complete a Return-to-Work Agreement (RTWA). This is a document with all the employer’s expectations for you post rehab. This is used in cases when the employer approached the employee for failure to perform work responsibilities. After treatment, the requirements to return to the previous work position often include:
- Abstinence from all alcohol/drugs except ones with medical prescriptions.
- A time period of regular drug tests.
- Compliance with addiction treatment recommendations.
- Agreement of monitored compliance by the company including updates from medical doctors.
- Paying for the monitoring and treatment unless covered by insurance.
Seeking Treatment Without Talking with Your Employer
If you choose to keep it quiet, there are ways to get professionals drug and alcohol treatment in a discrete manner.
- Find an outpatient facility. This will eliminate the need to take a leave of absence from work.
- If you have vacation time coming or sick days available through your employer, use them to cover any days you miss for treatment.
- Try to coordinate your treatment schedule with your work schedule. For example, if you have counseling sessions two days a week and two scheduled days off, talk to your manager about your schedule ahead of time.
- Locate a support group that has meetings on weekends or evenings.
- Evening outpatient treatment
Tips for Professionals in Rehab
Regardless of the type of addiction treatment you pursue, the investment, both in terms of time and money, can be substantial. And more importantly your life, livelihood and family is at stake if you don’t put the same focus and drive into addiction recovery as you have put into your success in the business world. Here are some tips to help you maximize your experience during professionals addiction rehab:
Create a Dialogue With Your Family
Speak openly and honestly with your spouse and household regarding the potential outpatient treatment programs that are available to you. Discuss your options with your loved ones to garner support and to share your thoughts on moving forward with a plan of action.
Ask for Support From Your Loved Ones
Ask for moral, emotional, and mental support from your loved ones including your immediate family and close friends. Reach out for support while overcoming your addiction and maintain positive relationships with those who have shown unwavering support throughout the entirety of your struggles. Candidly speak about the challenges and obstacles you are facing and share how additional support helps to keep you focused and motivated on a happier and sober future.
Get a 12 Step Sponsor
Obtain a sponsor in a 12 step meeting fellowship of your choice. Your after-work rehab program can assist you with this process. Sponsors provide much-needed support and guidance to those who are in need of additional assistance and motivation in order to remain drug and alcohol-free. The primary role of a sponsor is to take you through the 12 steps and act as a recovery “mentor”. Getting a sponsor and working the steps will greatly improve your chances of long term sobriety.
Participate in Group Therapy
Group therapy sessions are optimal for those who are lacking outside support mentally and emotionally or for those who are simply in search of other individuals to connect to with similar experiences. Learn to better express your emotions regarding your addiction and living a sober life in group gatherings. Alleviate stress and the weight of the world on your shoulders by speaking candidly about your struggles and how you plan to overcome them with the support of others also attending the group sessions. This is a completely non judgement setting but in order to benefit from it you must be willing to be honest and have the willingness to actively participate.
Commit to One on One Therapy
Schedule individual counseling appointments for one-on-one care and guidance. Work together with a counselor or therapist who designates time just for you and your needs. Discuss your current feelings regarding your addiction and any challenges you are struggling to overcome for additional support and guidance. Meet with your counselor or therapist regularly to avoid feeling isolated an alone while remaining sober. You’ll be assigned an experienced therapist at any level of professionals addiction treatment.