Ever struggle with your work-life balance?
Most people have, especially now. Whether you worked from home, a socially-distanced office or in the trenches of the service sector, your work habits probably changed in some very radical ways.
Hopefully, your self-care routine didn’t. You know the usual advice: Get up and stretch once in a while or go for a walk. Try to eat healthy food and stay away from the vending machines. Maybe ease up on the caffeine while you’re at it.
Great stuff to do, all of it. Unfortunately, people never seem to include rehab and mental health care when they think about self-care.
Seriously, there’s no greater form of self-care than seeking relief and care for mental and/or substance disorders. People who are in crisis often tend to not be the most productive employees, and you’d think employers would encourage anyone struggling with their issues to take some time to seek help.
However, there’s a problem. Aside from having one more thing to juggle with changing schedules and responsibilities, our society unfairly stigmatizes addiction and mental disorders.
The stigma’s so strong, advocacy group Mental Health America says over half of Americans with a mental illness never receive treatment. This isn’t just bad news for workers, it’s bad news for business. Aside from the obvious risks, there’s a very real economic cost to mental illness left untreated and it’s expected to increase with time.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean help isn’t available. Some federal laws actually protect employees who are seeking care for substance abuse and mental health.
FMLA, Leave and Addiction Recovery
Recovery takes time, which is why treatment providers often recommend longer stays in their programs. Unfortunately, time isn’t always available, especially if a person seeking recovery is still working. Employers can be reluctant to sign off on extended leave. Fortunately, legislation protects workers seeking drug and alcohol treatment.
Signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for 12 unpaid weeks of insured leave for certain family and medical-related reasons, provided both they and their employer are eligible.
The Department of Labor’s elaws Advisors service warns certain conditions must be met if the reason for taking FMLA leave involves substance abuse treatment. Leave can only be taken if treatment is provided by:
- A health care provider
- A provider of health care services
- A referral by a health care provider
A leave of absence resulting from substance use alone does not qualify under the FMLA; there must be a provider involved. There’s another area of caution, too – although employers can’t usually punish employees for taking FMLA leave for substance treatment, they can if they’ve already communicated a policy which allows for firing for substance abuse.
Finally, FMLA leave can also be taken if someone is caring for a person who’s receiving treatment.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in a situation where taking extended leave is possible, great. If you’re not, however, there’s still other options available. Mental health and substance treatment have undergone enormous change and treatment options can be surprisingly flexible.
What is Outpatient Addiction Treatment?
Don’t get us wrong – inpatient, 24/7 care plays a vital role in treatment. For some patients, or someone who’s in the early phases of their recovery, it’s the best option. Full-time monitored care provides a strong foundation for a sober, healthy life.
But that level of care doesn’t last forever. As patients progress through treatment, their needs change as they begin to reintegrate themselves back into an independent life.
Enter outpatient addiction treatment. These programs allow patients to continue their care while living at home, or in a sober living environment. Patients can begin (or continue) education, find and work jobs, further their career and participate in daily life while continuing in their program.
Traditionally, outpatient addiction treatment programs consist of:
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP): This care level offers patients a highly structured treatment program that often lasts for most of the day. Aimed at minimizing stays in a full-time care environment, patients commute from the place they live (ideally, a sober living arrangement) to a facility where they receive treatment such as group therapy and medical check-ups.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): For patients who no longer need constant monitoring, this level of care offers a great deal of flexibility, particularly for patients who are working or attending school. Although the experience is similar to PHP, clients focus more on their long-term recovery, further building life skills and developing healthy relationships.
Some providers offer additional scheduling options, such as night programs.
The Bottom Line: If You Need Help, Get It
Before you ask your workplace for help, remember this: you have nothing to be ashamed of. Seeking treatment is brave, and many supervisors admire someone who speaks up for themselves. If you feel uncomfortable, you can try explaining it as a medical emergency (which it more or less is) and leave it at that. If you’ve already met case managers and other professionals at your center, ask them for help.
Treatment isn’t meant to be a disruption of your normal life; rather, you’re putting yourself on temporary pause to set some things in order. There’s no better way to keep a work-life balance.
Speaking of life, drug & alcohol addiction treatment is best accompanied with a sober living arrangement. Living with people who share your goals, understand your struggles, and share your new lifestyle is critical to lasting success in recovery.
SoberLivingNearYou.com is the perfect tool for finding a sober living arrangement near you. With thousands of listings at your fingertips, you’ll be able to find a sober living solution which meets your specific needs and gives you a great resource while recovering from substance abuse. Want to learn more? Call a SoberLivingNearYou.com representative now at 866-940-0439!