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Can You Get Fired For Opioid Addiction?

Many people with substance use disorder find that their condition affects multiple aspects of their lives. Addiction can cause a spiral of despair, loss, and desperation. Getting treatment and help is the way out of this spiral. You may worry about how this will affect your career. Can you be fired for being addicted to opioids? Will your coworkers find out if you go to treatment?

Opioid use disorder has been a problem in the United States for a long time, since the introduction of drugs like Oxycontin in the 1990s. Today, fentanyl is one of the most used drugs and a contaminant in other opioids. It is the leading cause of deadly overdoses in North Carolina; in 2020, nine residents died from an overdose every day of the year. Opioid use disorder can cause many problems in your life.

So how can you begin to reclaim your life and keep your job? There are many things that affect this, including the ADA.

Opioid Use Disorder is Covered Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Opioid use disorder is recognized as a disability under the ADA. There are a few stipulations for this; a doctor must verify that you have this condition. If they say you need treatment, your employer has to let you attend it. If you are addicted to opioids and not currently using them, you are covered as long as you seek help.

The ADA will protect people with OUD from discrimination in many settings. For example, if you’re currently in college, you can’t be suspended for seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. Jails, medical facilities, and homeless shelters are all responsible for treating addiction like any other disease. Impeding your treatment could result in a lawsuit.

Medication-Assisted Treatment and the ADA

When a person first gets sober from opioids, they undergo many changes. While some people may decide to detox, others feel more comfortable if they can use Medication-Assisted Treatment such as Suboxone to help prevent withdrawal symptoms.

As long as you are not misusing opioids and have a valid prescription, your medication to treat your OUD is considered a necessary treatment under the ADA. OUD is regarded as the “gold standard” of treatment, alongside talk therapy, 12-step meetings, or other treatments.

Talking With Your Employer About Opioid Use Disorder

You probably have many questions if you need help with your opioid use disorder. If you work for a company with an HR department, that will be your first stop to understand your benefits. You may be able to take major medical leave using the Family Medical Leave Act to attend treatment. Or, you may want to fit it into your schedule and do telehealth appointments and groups.

Insurance will typically cover treatment once you have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder. Your treatment options are another issue you’ll need to discuss with your loved ones before you take it to work. It’s a good idea to make these plans before you talk to your employer if your treatment schedule, therapy, etc., interfere with your work schedule.

You may think that you’ve hidden your adduction well, but if your employer sees you regularly, they may be able to see something is not right. Letting them know you have a problem but want to get help is a good step in the direction of honesty in directness in your work life.

By law, your employer must maintain confidentiality regarding any information they receive regarding addiction or substance use. Ask to speak with them privately and plan what you want to tell them. Let them know that you are working to change your life and want to be the best employee possible. Let them know what kind of time off you will need and how you plan to seek treatment. If they give you any flack or threaten your employment, let them gently know that the ADA covers addiction as a disability. If they persist, tell them that you are happy to have HR speak with them and that you can’t change your plans. You need help.

Getting Help for Opioid Use Disorder

We help people throughout North Carolina get sober from opioids and begin a new phase of life in recovery. We can help you via in-person therapy, MAT, and even telehealth. We’re here to help you start the healing journey to being drug-free. Give us a call at 910-295-7246


If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.

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Our  mission is to improve lives and help you get better. 

Addiction, pain, and mental health challenges interfere with the joys of living, but we can help.  Dr. Corrigan, and the whole team at Solas Health, will help.

If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.

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