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How Do I Talk to My Boss About Taking Time Off Work For Substance Abuse Treatment?

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how to talk to your employer about going to rehab
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Millions of Americans live with addiction. While there are some risk factors that make it more common to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol, this condition can affect anyone.

Addiction affects every part of your life, from your physical and mental health to your social and financial wellbeing. While addiction often makes a big impact on people, many people live for months or years without seeking treatment to overcome it. Why is this?

The issue of addiction can be difficult to talk about. People may fear judgment or worry that the people around them may lose trust or respect for them. Addiction is surrounded by misinformation and stigma–although progress is being made as awareness and education about this condition spreads.

Because of the stigma that can still surround addiction, many people may feel unsure or nervous about talking to their loved ones, friends, colleagues, and employer about going to rehab. It can be especially tricky to know how to talk to your boss about taking time off to get the addiction treatment you need.

At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we believe that anyone can recover from addiction if they get the treatment and support they need. We have created a handy guide for you to read before you talk to your employer about going to drug and alcohol rehab. Understanding your rights and the steps to take may make the process more comfortable for you so that you can focus on what matters most: your recovery from addiction.

A Step by Step guide to Help You Talk to Your Employer About Going to Rehab

Talking to your employer about going to rehab and taking time off to treat your addiction may feel uncomfortable or even overwhelming. It can be helpful to identify why you want to go to rehab and what will be better when you are finished. Will you be a more present parent? A better student? Will you be able to focus on a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps getting sober will even allow you to be more productive at work and bring in more revenue for your company. Once you have your reason in mind, it may be easier to have this conversation.

There are some practical steps you can take to prepare yourself to ask your boss for time off to go to rehab. These are:

  1. Get a diagnosis. A medical professional or addictions specialist should provide you with a formal diagnosis related to your substance use disorder. This is often necessary for your human resources department or boss to approve your leave of absence.
  2. Find the right treatment option. Go into the meeting with your boss with an idea of the treatment program you will be attending. While you don’t have to have specific dates available, it is helpful to provide an idea of the start and end dates of the program, or an approximate length of time you will be away from work. Your medical and addiction professionals will help you determine the right level of care to meet your needs.
  3. Talk to your Human Resources (HR) department. Your HR team can help you fill out all necessary paperwork related to your leave and discuss what you need to do to ensure all payment and health insurance matters are settled before you start treatment.
  4. Communicate. Stay in touch with your boss and HR department as you formalize your plans and throughout your time in treatment. Let them know about any changes to your treatment plan and when you are likely to return to work.

Getting addiction treatment is the best thing for you, your employer, your coworkers, and customers or clients. Requesting this time off is an important step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

talk to your employer about going to rehab

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

(781) 622-9190

Research suggests that between 10 and 25 percent of working Americans may be living with substance abuse. The effects of addiction in the workplace are seen in increased accidents and mistakes, decreased productivity, and strained professional relationships.

It’s not only a good idea to take a leave of absence to go to rehab, it is your legal right. In many cases, people’s employers are legally required to provide time off for people to get addiction treatment. Understanding your legal rights, in this case, can give you the confidence you need to discuss them with your employer about going to rehab.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created to provide protection for people’s jobs when they require time off to receive treatment for a medical condition. You are entitled to take up to 12 weeks away from work to go to rehab without fear of losing your job. To qualify for FMLA protection, you must have worked for your employer for 12 consecutive months and have worked more than 1,250 hours, and your company must have 50 or more employees.[2]

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that people with a disability can’t be denied employment, discriminated against, or fired because of their condition and that appropriate allowances must be made to allow them to do their job. Addiction and substance use disorders are covered by the ADA. This law prevents your employer from discriminating against you because of your substance use disorder or firing you when you return to work because of it.

You may also be entitled to have your work schedule changed to accommodate certain aspects of treatment, such as 12-step meetings or outpatient therapies.

Find Help Today

If you or someone you love requires substance abuse treatment or support during recovery from addiction, please reach out to the staff at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment. We provide a range of adaptable, supportive services that can empower you in your fight with addiction. Even if you talk to your employer about going to rehab and taking time off work for substance abuse treatment, but you are unable to do so, we have outpatient programs that can work around your schedule. Call today to speak to an admissions counselor and learn about your treatment options.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SP132-FullTime-2014/NSDUH-SP132-FullTime-2014.pdf
  2. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
  3. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/disability/ada
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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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