What Are The Practical Effects Of Seeking Drug Rehab?

If you're considering entering an inpatient drug rehab or recovery center -- or have already sought or received this treatment -- you may be wondering about the practical consequences for your everyday life. Will you lose your job? Once a rehab stay is on your record, will you be forever barred from purchasing life insurance? Read on for some (hopefully reassuring) information about how a drug rehab stay might affect your future.

How can drug rehabilitation affect your employment?

If you've worked for at least 1 year (and at least 1,250 hours within that year) for an employer that employs more than 50 people, your absence to seek rehabilitation should fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to seek medical or substance abuse treatment without being fired, suffering a reduction in pay, or being demoted. Your employer must hold your job (or a substantially similar job) open for you until your return. However, there are some exceptions to this:

  • The treatment you seek must be through a certified medical provider.
  • If your employer has a zero-tolerance drug policy, and you've communicated to your employer your reason for taking FMLA leave, you may legally be fired while on FMLA.

Federal regulations also permit one of your family members to take unpaid FMLA leave to care for you while you are receiving substance abuse treatment through a certified medical provider.

If you work at an employer with fewer than 50 employees, or if you haven't worked a full year, you will not be covered by FMLA. Your employer may legally terminate you for seeking drug treatment. However, many employers will value an employee's decision to voluntarily seek treatment. If you can create a manageable plan for handling your workload during your absence, and approach your employer with honesty about your needs, you may find that your employer will be flexible as to your ability to return to work.

How can drug rehabilitation affect your ability to join the military?

The U.S. military has very strict enlistment standards when it comes to drug and alcohol use. Often, any dependency on alcohol or any use or sale of "hard drugs" will be sufficient to disqualify you from enlisting. However, there are waivers available, depending upon the reason for which you sought treatment and the extent (and time period) of your dependency.

Whatever you do, don't lie to your enlisting officer under the belief that the military cannot access your confidential treatment records. These records may be made available, and if your falsehood is discovered after you enlist (even decades later), you will be dishonorably discharged and likely ineligible for any benefits you might have received.

How can drug rehabilitation affect your ability to purchase life insurance?

Because of the lifelong nature of addiction and the effects drugs have on your body, you will understandably be charged higher life insurance rates for the few years after you leave rehab. However, there are some ways to keep these costs down.

  • Shop around
    • Get quotes from a number of different insurers. Some may treat previous drug or alcohol dependency as equivalent to previous tobacco dependency, while others will impose heavy financial penalties. Getting a number of different quotes should give you a good idea of what a reasonable rate should be.
  • Keep your support network intact
    • Eventually, your life insurance rate will drop to that of someone who has never used drugs. However, before this happens, your insurance company will want evidence that you'll continue on with your drug-free life. Attending AA or NA meetings and showing that you have a strong support network will go a long way in inspiring confidence in your sobriety.
  • Investigate your workplace life insurance policies
    • If you're employed, check out the life insurance policies offered through your employer -- these policies cannot refuse to cover an individual (or charge higher rates) because of health or lifestyle habits.

Above all, know that by seeking drug treatment, you are investing in your health and your future. Don't let a few financial bumps in the road cause you to stray from your path. Click here for info on recovery centers.