Can I Take FMLA For Substance Abuse Treatment?

Can I Take FMLA For Substance Abuse Treatment?


Yes. You can take FMLA leave for addiction or substance abuse treatment, but your job protection is based on certain factors. Your employer may approve your FMLA leave if you are applying for substance abuse treatment for your loved ones/family, but when it comes to your treatment, the chances are moderate to low. 

According to the NIDA records, nearly 20.4 million people in the United States were diagnosed with substance use disorders in 2022, with only 2 million getting substance abuse treatment. 

A lack of clarity in the FMLA with respect to substance use disorders and fear of losing their job is one of the main reasons why many people in the USA are avoiding SUD treatment. This blog will help you declutter the myth about FMLA for addiction treatment. 

Table of contents

  • What Is FMLA?
  • Who Is Eligible For FMLA Leave?
  • Reasons You Can Take FMLA Leave For
  • What Kind Of Substance Abuse Treatment Does FMLA Cover?
  • Can You Use FMLA Twice A Year For Substance Abuse Treatment?
  • What Is FMLA?

    Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 1993 is a federal act that allows employees to take a 12-week medical leave for various medical reasons for themselves or their family without fearing losing their job. It also allows the employee to access health insurance and medical benefits from their employer during their leave period.

    Who Is Eligible for FMLA Leave?

    You are eligible for FMLA leave if you have worked for a “covered employer” at least 1250 hours for 12 months. That is not it. Your employer should manage 50 or more employees, and you should work in the company location to be eligible for FMLA leave. So, it is obvious that WFH or remote employees cannot enjoy the FMLA benefits.

    You have to submit a medical certificate and attach the form WH 380F and WH 380E signed by your treating doctor or a certified healthcare provider to get your FMLA approved by your employer.

    Note: A covered employer is one who has more than 50 employees working 20+ weeks per year. (U.S Department of Labor)

    Reasons You Can Take FMLA Leave For

    You can take FMLA leave for 

    • Childbirth and for taking care of your Baby 
    • Taking care of the adopted or foster child within one year of placement.
    • Taking care of your spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition.
    • If you are suffering from serious mental or health conditions.

    You can also take FMLA for substance abuse treatment. But

    1. You cannot take FMLA leave for a substance abuse problem. You can only apply for an FMLA if you are undergoing treatment.
    2. FMLA leave may not apply to those who are taking outpatient treatment for substance abuse. You must submit the documents that you are taking inpatient treatment to your employer to get your FMLA approved.
    3. Your employer has the right to disapprove or reject your FMLA leave application if your drug abuse violates their company’s drug use policy. 

    What Kind Of Substance Abuse Treatment Does FMLA Cover?

    The type of substance abuse treatment that qualifies are

    1. Inpatient Treatment - Staying at the hospital or rehab center to get consistent and intensive care for a particular period.
    2. Medication-Assisted Treatment - Medically assisted treatment, including methadone and naloxone, to treat addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
    3. Detoxification program - Supervised Medical detox program

    Sometimes, intensive outpatient programs or outpatient rehab programs can also be considered for FMLA leave, but it depends on the discretion of your employer to approve your leave. 

    Relation between FMLA and ADA

    While FMLA provides employees work-life balance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against disabilities. FMLA and ADA have two different functionalities, but they focus on eliminating discrimination against employees. 

    FMLA leave has a 12-week cap, whereas ADA leave does not have a cap. It is solely on the employer's discretion to offer leave either on FMLA or ADA based on the employee’s situation.

    What Happens If My 12 Weeks of FMLA is Exhausted?

    When your 12 weeks of FMLA is exhausted, and you are still under substance abuse treatment, your employer may assess the situation and may extend the leave under ADA, or they may terminate your employment. 

    Can you be fired after FMLA runs out?

    The answer is yes and no. It depends on certain factors and circumstances. You can be fired if your FMLA runs out and your employer confirms that you are not abiding by the substance abuse treatment measures. If your employer understands that you are recovering but need some extra time, he may extend your leave under ADA to offer you unpaid leave.

    Can You Use FMLA Twice A Year For Substance Abuse Treatment?

    The thing is, yes. But if you are taking FMLA for substance abuse treatment twice a year, your employer might lose trust in your productivity, and you may lose your job. While this is considered an ok factor for other severe health conditions, substance abuse is a different story altogether. 

    So it is best recommended not to apply for FMLA twice a year if you are going through substance abuse treatment. 

    Final Words

    Your employer may approve your FMLA for substance abuse treatment unless it violates the company policy. FMLA covers all types of substance abuse treatment except outpatient programs. 

    Some employers may also provide FMLA leave for outpatient programs too. You must provide a medical certificate and a WH 380E form from a board-certified healthcare provider to get your FMLA approved.

    To be precise, FMLA provides you with job security and helps you in work-life balance, but when it comes to substance abuse treatment, it is solely based on the employer to either provide FMLA or refuse it. 

    Older Post Newer Post