Can I Continue Working During Outpatient Rehab in California?

keep working during rehab

People often try to hide their addiction from their loved ones and employer because they fear that if they are found out, they will be forced to go to rehab and lose their job. Even those who are openly struggling with addiction may try to justify their reluctance to go to rehab because they can’t afford to stop working.

Unfortunately, addiction is usually accompanied by financial hardships because people struggling often spend too much money on drugs or alcohol. In order to keep the bills paid, they can’t afford to stop working. The concern that you may have to lose your job to go to rehab is a legitimate one, but there are ways you can continue working while in rehab.

Although inpatient addiction treatment centers require you to stay at the facility and receive 24-hour care, outpatient programs are far more flexible, and you can attend an outpatient program that is scheduled around your normal work hours, allowing you to keep working and go to outpatient rehab at the same time.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers offer addiction treatment services on an ambulatory basis. Instead of living at the facility for the duration of your care, you are free to work, go to school, and care for your family during the time that is not spent in therapy.

Outpatient rehab programs facilitate group and individual therapy sessions to help you process your addiction, improve your mental health, and learn how to prevent relapse. Therapy sessions may address a broad range of topics, including identifying triggers, preventing relapse, finding employment, dealing with legal challenges, and adapting to independent living. Outpatient rehab services typically include all of the following:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Case management
  • Relapse prevention
  • Life skills therapy
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • Randomized drug testing
  • Aftercare planning and support

How Flexible is Outpatient Rehab With My Work Schedule?

Outpatient rehab is the most flexible level of care offered in addiction treatment. Most outpatient programs provide a few hours of therapy 2-3 days each week, and you only have to be at the treatment facility for your scheduled group and individual therapy sessions. However, therapy sessions are still scheduled at regular times, and group therapy sessions may not be able to be rescheduled based on your work schedule.

Individual therapy sessions, on the other hand, may be more flexible than group ones. You can work with your therapist to schedule your individual sessions around your work schedule to the best of both of your abilities.

Many addiction treatment centers offer evening outpatient rehab to accommodate individuals who work standard 9-5 jobs. If you work in the evening, nighttime rehab may not work out, so you’ll want to look for a daytime treatment option.

Your Job May Be Legally Protected

Thankfully, there are many laws that protect your job during rehab. These laws make it extremely difficult for an employer to fire you for seeking medical or behavioral health treatment. Knowing your rights can help ensure that you can keep your job or continue working during outpatient rehab.

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health problems, including substance use disorder, to qualified individuals at covered employers. If you must take time off or switch to part-time due to your rehab schedule, you can speak with your HR department about using FMLA to protect your job. FMLA also has protections for your employer-provided health insurance.
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)HIPPA protects your privacy and confidentiality during rehab. This means an addiction treatment center cannot tell your employer that you are in rehab or share any of your private health information. If you are scared that your boss will fire you once they find out about your addiction or treatment, know that HIPAA guarantees your privacy.
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – Even if your employer does find out about your addiction or your treatment, this act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, including pertaining to addiction, to federal employees and federal contractors.

Your employer does have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace, so they can ask you to take randomized drug tests, and they can fire you if you arrive at work while under the influence. Your job is only protected if you are actively receiving treatment for addiction and are not using substances while on the job.

Tips for Balancing Work With Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab

When you’re trying to get sober, your recovery should be your number one priority. But if you still have to work, your job may be a close second.

You will go through a lot of changes in early sobriety. You may feel stressed, overwhelmed, and highly emotional due to your body adjusting to no longer abusing drugs or alcohol. Balancing these difficulties with work can be challenging, but it is possible.

If you have to continue working while attending an outpatient addiction treatment program, utilize the following suggestions to create a healthy work-life balance in recovery.

  • Talk to your employer about changing your hours if they interfere with your outpatient rehab schedule.
  • Dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to relaxation or self-care.
  • Don’t let stress build-up. Make sure you have healthy outlets for stress such as exercising or a support group.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet so you’ll feel better and have more energy.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule and try to get plenty of rest each night.
  • Avoid picking up extra shifts. Healing from addiction takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, and picking up extra shifts may cause you to stretch yourself too thin, leading to exhaustion.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a day off if you need time to relax.

Learn About Your Outpatient Drug & Alcohol Rehab Options in Southern California Today

At Sheer Recovery, we understand that not everyone has the luxury of putting their career to the side to go to rehab, which is one of the reasons why we offer addiction treatment services across multiple accommodating levels of care. By calling and speaking with one of our dedicated admissions counselors, you can learn about your treatment options and get help choosing the best one for you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to learn about our flexible outpatient rehab options in Orange County California. Call now to get started.


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