Going Back to Work After Rehab

Struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction is no joke and recovery is not something you should attempt to do on your own. Before you panic about whether or not you can afford to put your life on hold for a month (or longer, depending on the program), know that there are many options available to you if you’re ready to ask for the help you need. If you’re not ready to commit to rehab full time, you can find an outpatient program. My fellow Buckeyes know, for example, that there are some fantastic Ohio outpatient programs available. There are probably some great programs wherever you live, too. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your doctor for a referral, a quick Google search can turn up a bunch of options for you to explore.

But what if you need an inpatient program? Taking 30 days or longer (some programs last six months!) away from everything is incredibly difficult. You essentially have to start over, financially speaking, once you’re out. Here are some tips to help you get back to work so you can pay down your debt and rebuild your savings.

Contact Your Former Employer

Because most private businesses in the United States are “at-will employers,” there likely aren’t any protections on the books to prevent your boss from firing you if you need to take a month or more off of work to attend rehab. That said, if you are lucky enough to still be employed, talk to your HR department before you start an in-patient addiction program to see if you are able to take a leave of absence. If not, do your best to leave on good terms so that you’ll have an easier time being hired back when you’re out of treatment.

Here’s the good news if you are seeking new employment: HIPPA laws prevent your employer from asking about or trying to track down any information about your medical history–including whether or not you have spent time in a rehabilitation facility. You get to decide whether or not to disclose that information on your application. Whether or not that level of honesty is a good idea is, frankly, debatable. You don’t want to be actively dishonest, of course, that could get in the way of your recovery! Still, there’s a reason most of these programs insist on anonymity, right?

Side Hustles

One of the best ways to help yourself start earning money is with a side hustle. Side hustles are great because you can work on them while you are searching for a traditional job. You can work on them in the evenings and on the weekends if you want to keep bringing in some extra coin after you go back to work. If your side hustle is successful enough, you might even want to consider turning it into a full-time thing. There are many companies that are incredibly popular and successful today that started out as simple side hustles.

Here’s the bad news: side hustles are rarely easy. Sure you might luck into a lucrative gig doing house or pet sitting for people who are on vacation. Maybe you’ll even earn enough to get by as a dog walker or a driver for Uber. If you really want to maximize your earning potential, though, you should try to create something new. Having a unique product or service that you offer is the best way to ensure your side hustle’s success.

CAVEAT: Consulting is probably the one exception to this rule. If you were very successful at your previous job, you can likely turn that into considerable income as a consultant. Of course, even then your selling point is yourself, right?

Getting back out there, professionally speaking, once you’ve left treatment isn’t going to be easy. It will take time and effort on your part. But don’t worry too much: if you keep at it, you’ll find something and be back on your financial feet before you know it.