Can I Get Fired From Rehab for Using Drugs?

Getting over addiction is never easy. Relapses are unfortunately common for a variety of reasons, and if you start using while you’re in treatment, it may well be caught by the rehab center. Getting caught could lead you to worry whether you can be refused treatment for your indiscretion. Thankfully, many treatment centers will not “fire” you from treatment if you test positive for drugs, but that might not be the case, depending on the specific treatment program you’re attending. Finding out the facts helps you stay in treatment and understand why using drugs during your recovery is potentially a big issue. 

Why Shouldn’t I Use While in Rehab?

Drug rehabs across the U.S. will encourage you to work toward abstinence, discouraging you from taking  any substances. The reason for this is that most people who struggle with substance abuse have difficulty stopping using once they have started, so alcoholics will drain a bottle once opened and illicit drug users will deplete their supply after starting on it. In some cases, it can lead to a complete relapse and non-attendance of treatment.

Do All Rehabs Conduct Drug Testing?

There is a definitive benefit to conducting drug testing for a drug rehab. Users might lie to the staff to avoid looking bad or as if they aren’t taking the treatment seriously, but you can’t really trick an objective test. This is most often done with a blood test, but in some cases, rehab centers might use an alternative method such as urine testing. It’s generally more common for outpatient rehab centers to conduct drug tests, because the patients are exposed to the risks of their ordinary lifestyle between sessions, and may therefore have used. In contrast, inpatient facilities are often rigorously controlled environments, which means that anybody actually obtaining drugs is so unlikely that testing is unnecessary.

Drug tests are more common at the beginning of treatment, because it helps the center establish the extent of the problem. Inpatient centers will often use this opportunity to check the personal possessions of the individual entering treatment to ensure they aren’t smuggling substances into the facility. For the same reason, many drug rehabs opt to monitor and check incoming mail.

When testing is conducted, it will usually be done at random intervals. This is important, since drugs of abuse are only in the individual’s system for a limited time and it wouldn’t take extensive research to ensure you were drug free if the test were scheduled in advance.

What Are the Consequences of a Positive Test?

If you test positive for drugs while attending a rehab, what will happen as a result very much depends on the specific center. As mentioned previously, most rehab centers accept that relapse is an ordinary part of the recovery process, and don’t really punish for a positive result. The most likely consequence is nothing more than a re-doubling of treatment efforts. In some cases, the rehabilitation center and the individual will have previously agreed on a course of action in the event of a positive result.

The consequences can be more severe, however. If the treatment was court-ordered, a positive result may have to be reported to the court, which could lead to a harsher sentence. In the same way, some workplaces won’t fire an employee if he or she promises to get treatment under the condition that the employer is notified if the individual tests positive. This could, in extreme circumstances, lead to the employee being fired.

Some rehabilitation centers will refuse treatment if a patient tests positive for drugs. This consequence should be stated prior to treatment, and, frankly, can be a risky strategy. Refusing treatment to someone who suffers a relapse is arguably extremely damaging, leaving the individual with no support network during a spiral into self-destruction. Nobody plans to relapse, but you should be wary of receiving treatment from someone who may not be willing to help you in the worst case scenario.

Conclusion – The Intention is Positive

The most vital thing to remember is that the reason for drug testing is to ensure that you move toward your treatment goals and get better. It might feel like monitoring or mistrust, but it is solely concerned with your well-being. Being aware of the severity of your problem and finding out that you have relapsed enables the center to continue providing the support you need. A relapse shouldn’t get you fired from rehab, but it should be a cold, hard reminder that you need to take your treatment seriously.

Posted on April 16th, 2013

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