Recovery from Opioid Abuse Covered Under the ADA


All Employers with 15+ Employees


April 5, 2022


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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently published “The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Opioid Crisis: Combating Discrimination Against People in Treatment or Recovery” which provides guidance to employers on how to manage employees recovering from opioid addiction.

Most notably, the guidance states that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) who are not engaging in illegal drug use. While this is not necessarily a new concept given that drug addiction is considered a physical or mental impairment under the ADA, the DOJ’s guidance clarifies that OUD is included under the law’s protections.

Additionally, the ADA protects individuals who are taking legally prescribed medication to treat their opioid use disorder, as long as they are not engaged in the illegal use of drugs. Drugs used to treat OUD are not considered an “illegal use of drugs” if the individual uses the medication under the supervision of a licensed health care professional, including methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone as approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of OUD. For employers, this means drug testing policies may need to be modified to account for opioid medicines prescribed to treat OUD. Specifically, employees may not be denied, or fired from, a job for this legal use of medication, unless they cannot do the job safely and effectively, or are disqualified under another federal law.

Action Items             

  1. Review the guidance here.
  2. Update drug testing policies as applicable.
  3. Have appropriate personnel trained on ADA requirements.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase