Can I Still Go To Work While Going Through An Opiate Detox Program?

Recovering from an opiate addiction can be a long and often painful process both physically and emotionally. Of course, the alternative of continuing your opiate addiction can have far more damaging consequences and even potentially end in death. Still, the unfortunate truth is that many addicts fail to get the help and treatment they need to overcome their addiction for one reason or another. In many cases, the fear of possibly losing their job or even missing out on a few weeks or months of income is one of the main factors that keeps people away from an opiate detox program. In light of this, here is a handy guide that should help to answer any questions you might have about continuing to work as you seek treatment for your opiate addiction.

The Ins and Outs of Opiate Detox and Withdrawal

Before getting into the question of whether you can still work while undergoing opiate addiction treatment, it is first necessary to understand a bit more about opiate detox and withdrawal. Individuals who are addicted to heroin, oxycodone and other opiates eventually will begin to develop a chemical dependence on the drug, and this dependence only ever worsens over time with continued opiate abuse.

What happens is that the person’s body begins to undergo various chemical and physiological changes that lead to a higher and higher level of opiate dependency. Unfortunately, reversing these changes isn’t an easy or fun process. Nonetheless, it is one that begins to happen automatically within a matter of hours after the person stops using, and it manifests itself in a wide range of mild to potentially life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal.

In fact, these withdrawal symptoms are often so severe that they are part of the reason a person becomes a fully blown addict in the first place. After all, the only way to get rid of the symptoms is to either take more opiates or attempt to ride them out, which can be one of the most unpleasant and possibly dangerous things a person can ever go through. Typically, the first symptoms of opiate withdrawal begin to occur during the first day or so of the detoxification process as the body begins to cleanse itself of all of the remaining opiates and associated chemicals.

After the first day or so, the initial physiological and mental symptoms begin to fade and are replaced by longer lasting, more intense and potentially dangerous symptoms, including:

  • Extreme paranoia and hallucinations
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure and severely elevated heartbeat
  • Hyperactivity and intense mood swings

Generally, these symptoms will start to peak after approximately 36 to 48 hours before slowly beginning to fade after three or four days. Although the first few days can be extremely intense and possibly life-threatening, most people will begin to feel completely normal again after a week or so.

Continuing to Work While Attending an Opiate Detox Facility

The fact that the first week of opiate detox is so extremely unpleasant and possibly dangerous means that it is always best done at an inpatient detox facility. This way, the recovering addict will not only have medical assistance on hand if needed, but they will eliminate their chances of potentially relapsing during this critical period. Detoxing is the very first and most difficult step on the long road to recovery, and it is one that typically requires around-the-clock care.

For this reason, it is usually impossible to work for at least the first week while you’re attending an inpatient detox facility. Nonetheless, this isn’t always the case as people with more minor opiate addictions usually won’t experience nearly as severe withdrawal symptoms. In fact, some people can easily overcome the worst of things within a day or two with the help of an outpatient facility and the love and support of family and friends.

Although fully recovering from an opiate addiction can be a lifelong process, the hardest part is definitely those first few days or week. Following this, many people find that they are able to successfully continue on the road to recovery with the assistance of an outpatient opiate addiction program. In this case, it should be fully possible to return to work almost immediately after completing the initial period of detox or as soon as you’re completely over all of the symptoms of withdrawal.

How the Government Helps to Ensure Your Job Is Protected

There is usually no reason to worry that entering an opiate detox facility will cause you to lose your job as the government has protections in place to help prevent this. Under the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are legally obligated to provide their employees with up to 12 weeks of sick leave in case of necessary medical treatment. The important thing to know here is that addiction is classified as an illness, which means that addiction treatment qualifies the same as any other necessary medical treatment.

For anyone seeking help for an opiate addiction, this means that you usually won’t have to worry about being fired for entering an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility providing you meet certain basic criteria. All government agencies and other organizations over a certain size are legally required to provide employees with sick leave as long as the individual in question has been employed for at least one year.

In order to take advantage of your guaranteed sick leave, you must first notify your employer of your need to take leave and of your rights to have it covered by the FMLA protections. Although you must provide notification of your necessary medical leave, you are not legally required to disclose that it is for addiction treatment. This means you don’t have to worry about suffering any negative consequences or stigma as a result. Unfortunately, it is up to your employer whether this leave will be paid or unpaid. Nonetheless, you may be able to apply for short-term disability to ensure you will still receive some income while you undergo treatment.

The fact that most people are easily able to continue working while seeking opiate addiction treatment should come as great news to anyone considering getting the help they need to overcome their issues. If you’re ready for help, it only takes one call to get started. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, so call us today at 877-978-3125

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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