Can I Still Work While in Rehab?
By: Lakeview Health
Published: May 9, 2019

This is a question that has likely come up if you are like so many Americans who have a job yet are dependent on drugs or alcohol. Almost 10 million people with substance abuse disorders hold down full-time jobs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. While it is nice to know you are far from alone, you still can’t help but worry about what entering a rehab center will mean and the effect that action could have on your job. Fortunately, you can enter an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and continue working while getting help for your substance abuse disorder.

Can Patients Keep Their Job During Addiction Treatment?

If you’d like to learn more about your options at Lakeview Health alcohol and drug rehab center, give us a call today at 866.704.7692.  

Understanding Intensive Inpatient & Outpatient Rehabilitation

Patients who are in intensive outpatient programs visit the rehab center for at least three hours each day. These particular programs are highly structured to meet the needs of individuals who are suffering from various types and levels of addiction.   The process begins with an assessment wherein the staff determines what you need to succeed at the rehab center. The review includes an evaluation of your physical, mental and medical health conditions. During this process, it is crucial to identify any co-occurring disorders that require treatment as well. For instance, if you suffer from a mental health issue, we recommend being treated for this along with your addiction during your rehabilitation stay. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to stop using alcohol or drugs long-term.   After the evaluation, the appropriate rehab staff members will create a customized plan for your outpatient treatment.

This plan will likely consist of group and individual counseling sessions, along with behavioral therapy.   If you need medical detox, this will require a week to ten days of inpatient treatment. Depending on the benefits that your employer offers, you may have the option to use vacation hours, sick time or medical leave during this time.   Life skills training is also an essential aspect of your daily life inside of an inpatient rehab facility. This training will help you achieve long-term success in abstaining from drugs and alcohol. During life skills training, you will learn more effective behaviors for dealing with life’s ups and downs, including coping with strong emotions, handling stress, managing your anger, and improving your communication skills.   You will also have a case manager who will monitor you for substance use and may recommend further medical and mental health treatment if necessary. Your plan will address all aspects of treatment and recovery, so you can begin to look forward to the future right away.

The Step-Down Method  

Intensive outpatient rehab programs use a step-down method. That means your treatment will change as you progress.   It will be intense at the beginning of the process, but as you move forward, you will feel the hold alcohol or drug addiction has over you begin to diminish. Your case manager will continuously evaluate your progress and lower the intensity as needed. This will help you prepare you to move on, utilizing the experience and knowledge learned to deal with triggers that would have led back to drugs or alcohol.

Seeking Outside Help During Outpatient Rehab

During your stay at an outpatient rehab center, your case manager might recommend that you also attend a 12-step program. This will help you build a community of like-minded individuals who can encourage you to stay on track when you aren’t at the rehab center. Even though you are only undergoing outpatient treatment, you need to be committed to sobriety 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and this program will help.   Many experts recommend continuing with such programs even after transitioning out of rehab. It’s essential to maintain a reliable support system through every stage of recovery. Many patients rely on outside support groups for the rest of their lives.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab  

Intensive outpatient rehab offers a variety of benefits that patients can find convenient. It’s essential to be aware of these benefits before selecting a program and rehab facility.   Flexibility is one of the most significant benefits of an outpatient rehab center. You can attend rehab during the daytime or the evening, so it’s relatively easy to maintain your life outside of the treatment center. Additionally, you can continue to work, socialize with friends, and raise your family while seeking help for your addiction. Of course, it’s crucial that you do this in the safest way possible. Avoiding triggers while maintaining your life outside of the facility is paramount.   Many individuals also appreciate the fact they can continue to get support from their close friends and family members while receiving assistance at the rehab center. Those who have positive relationships outside that help with the healing process may benefit from going to outpatient rehab. That way, they can continue to rely on their support network while receiving treatment.   Lakeview Health can help you to overcome addiction through an outpatient program or specialized treatment that fits your needs.

Transitioning Out of Intensive Outpatient Rehab

Intensive outpatient rehab will give you the tools you need to overcome your addiction, but you will likely need additional help after its completion. Entering an aftercare program provides continued support as you navigate through life. You can carry on with aftercare for months or even years from the time you left rehab. Aftercare is much less intensive than outpatient rehabilitation and is easy to work around your daily routine. When you combine this with supplemental outside support groups, you will have the tools necessary to maintain your sobriety throughout the rest of your life.

Is Inpatient Rehab the Better Option?

Outpatient rehab works for countless people throughout the United States and globally. However, it is not always the right choice when dealing with an addiction. If you are physically addicted to drugs or alcohol, you need to enter medical detox first. This will allow you to purge the drugs and alcohol from your system in a safe and secure environment. During detox, a team of medical providers will help you stay comfortable while cleaning your system of drugs or alcohol.   Outpatient rehab is also not the right choice if you have constant urges to continue using drugs or alcohol.

An inpatient facility is the better option in this case since you will be in a structured environment that removed from the temptations of the outside world.   Speaking of those temptations, if you are surrounded by triggers that you have difficulty overcoming, consider starting with inpatient rehab and then moving onto outpatient rehab. You will learn how to deal with the triggers during inpatient rehab and continue with that work when you move into an outpatient setting.   Also, intensive outpatient rehab is not a good choice if you have difficulty keeping appointments. It is critical that you show up to each scheduled appointment during outpatient rehab. If this is not something that works for you, start with inpatient rehab so the staff can help you through the entire process.

Finally, outpatient rehab might not be beneficial if you are easily distracted. You need to handle the work, life, and rehabilitation balance if you are attending outpatient rehab. Should the distractions be too much, consider checking into inpatient rehabilitation. These centers remove the distractions of daily life so you can focus solely on your recovery.   Lakeview Health can answer any questions you have about what is the right treatment program for your specific addiction condition.

Keeping Your Job with Inpatient Rehab – What You Need to Know  

If intensive outpatient rehab doesn’t seem like the right fit, you are likely worried about keeping your job position. You cannot work during inpatient rehab; however, you can keep your job with the help of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – as long as you meet the criteria.   First, you must work for a covered employer. FMLA covers private-sector employers if they have a minimum of 50 employees that have worked in at least 20 workweeks in the preceding or current calendar year. Public agencies and public or private elementary or secondary schools are covered regardless of the number of employees.   You are eligible if you work for a participating company and have been employed for at least 12 months.

That breaks down to a minimum requirement of 1,250 hours of work on the books during the last 12 months. Finally, you must work at a location where the employer has a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile distance.   If you have met the requirements for FMLA, you can take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a calendar year. You will likely not receive a paycheck during leave, but you will keep your group health insurance and have job security.

Once you return from FMLA, you will go back to your original or a similar job. You will have the same pay and benefits.   Speak to your employer about FMLA if you are considering this route. Your employer should help with the necessary paperwork.   As mentioned previously, you may be able to undergo inpatient medical detox for a week to ten days, and then transition right to intensive outpatient rehab. This may not be appropriate for everyone but is an excellent option in certain circumstances.  

Choosing the Right Program

Intensive outpatient rehab is an excellent choice for those who want to continue working while going to rehab. Keep in mind that this program is not for everyone, so proper evaluation is needed. Go through the evaluation process, and if you are a good candidate for outpatient rehab, you can begin the process. You will learn new tools each day and receive the support necessary to fight back against your addiction.   If you have questions or are ready to take the first step with your recovery, give Lakeview Health a call today at 866.704.7692.