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 Post subject: Employment
PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Hi- I'm new to this group and have a question. Not sure this is the right area of the forum, but it's the closest I could find. I'm a substance abuse counselor who has been taking subutex since 2002 and klonopin (2mg/day) for much longer than that. I've never abused either one. My current employer is aware of the medications I take and it
s a non-issue. The issue is that I've recently applied for, and am one of two finalists for a position in another treatment facility. I don't know whether to disclose whether or not I take these medications. I work in at "at will" state, meaning I can be fired for any reason. They do not do pre-employment testing, but I will have to sign a statement stating that they can drug test me if for any reason anyone suspects that I've used drugs. I don't ever appear to have used drugs, but who knows if I'm tired one day and someone thinks it would be a good idea to drug test me. My dr. suggests that I don't disclose it, that it's their responsibility to ask, and if I am ever "found out" that I should fight it in court. In a perfect world, that's what I'd do, but this is my livelihood. And they could give any other reason for firing me anyway.

I'm concerned that if I don't tell them and I end up being drug tested six months or two years from now, I could be fired and also concerned if I do tell them I'll lose what is a really good professional opportunity.

I'd greatly appreciate any advice as quickly as possible because if I do get offered this job, it will happen in the next two days.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:43 pm 
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AFAIK, they don't test for buprenorphine on most employment drug screens, but I could be wrong. My company works for the government and the state, and we are often required to take drug screens. All they test for here is marijuana and opiates, but not bupe.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:04 pm 
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Hello msherman and welcome. I can tell you if it were me I wouldn't say a word. The way I understand employment laws, they cannot ask you anything more than if you're physically able to do the job. Nothing about anything medical or anything that could be considered a disability (some consider sub abuse a disability and/or an illness). I agree with Junkie, if for some reason they drug test you, the bupe shouldn't be picked up. The tests that show bupe are just too damn expensive. The way I see it is it's simply none of their business. I say go for that wonderful new opportunity without thinking twice (if that's what you want). GOOD LUCK and again, welcome.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Thank you both for your comments. I'm talking about working in a substance abuse treatment program and I know they do test for subutex and as I said in the post, I also take klonopin, which a lot of people in the treatment world or the "recovery" world don't consider as a legitimate medication. Lots of people in the 12 step programs which I do encourage as a counselor and would encourage in the new program I'd be working at don't consider people taking either subutex or clonopin to be "clean." While obviously I disagree with that, I'm not sure how these prospective employers would feel.......

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:08 pm 
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Ok, I am in school to be a chemical dependency counselor and I also used to take Suboxone. I spoke with two of my teachers, who are both practicing CDP's about whether a counselor on Sub would have to disclose that to their employer. Both of them said it's none of the employer's business.

The way it SHOULD work is this: when you take a pre-employment drug screen, they are looking for any drugs you are taking illegally, so illegal drugs and prescription drugs that are not prescribed to you. When you do the paperwork for the drug screen, you list what prescription meds (and also supplements and otc meds) you take. For the prescription drugs you provide proof via a doctor's note or show them the prescription bottle.

This information should be kept confidential between you and the lab that is processing your drug screen. There is no reason for your manager to know what medications you take, that would be a violation of your privacy.

When the drug screen is done, if the only things you tested positive for are things that you have a prescription for, then the screen should be reported as negative, end of story. The lab doesn't need to provide a list of every med you take to your employer. If you test positive for something that shouldn't be there, then that would be reported.

Now, I know it is strange because usually for pre-employment drug screens you go to some 3rd party lab or doctor's office or something, so it feels like there's a bit more privacy. How does it work when the place where you're applying for the job is in the business of giving drug screens, I don't know. That might be a question for human resources. You could just ask them how they administer pre-employment drug screens and what steps they take to protect the privacy of your medical information. You don't have to get into specifics for them to give you the answers you need.

Honestly, you could be taking buprenorphine for pain, or for depression, so what's it to them? If you broke your arm and were on vicodin the week of your drug screen, they wouldn't be able to say boo about it. As long as you are not in active addiction, they don't get to tell you how to run your recovery. If they are testing people for subutex use in order to screen out potential employees who have chosen replacement therapy to treat their addiction, that is seriously whack and possibly illegal.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:41 pm 
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DOQ is absolutely 100% correct. I will also tell you that most employers who know anything at all about the law or human resources DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THIS KIND OF INFORMATION. They aren't, or shouldn't be drug testing you because of the field you are in and concerns over suboxone. They should be testing for the same reasons most employers do. Because workers who are in active addiction to a substance increase costs to the company substantially. They take more time off, cause scheduling issues, cause accidents, and put the company at risk overall. They can also get reduction in insurance rates if they have a drug and alcohol policy in place.

Any employer who knows what they are doing, would immediately change the subject if you began disclosing personal medical information because if they don't hire you at that point, they could potentially be sued. So you can actually put your future employer at risk if you start disclosing these things and most respectable employers don't appreciate being informed of such matters. I never did.

I agree with your doctor that if they terminated you for it later or somehow found out about it via the drug screen that I would absolutely take it to court as a case of discrimination.

This employer needs an employee who is capable of performing the essential functions of the job. Your being on suboxone does not preclude you from being able to do your job. It will not put others at risk. Those opinions as to whether or not you are "clean" have nothing to do with your capacity to perform your job. I know in this field it seems the waters are muddied a bit. Keep it simple though. Plus, if you tell them and you are still hired, you will always wonder what they are thinking about you and you will always wonder if you get fired or laid off if that was why. You will always fear they will disclose this information to everyone else in the company. Don't do this to yourself.

Good luck getting the job! Congrats!
Cherie

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:46 pm 
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Jack and Cherie- thanks so much for your input. You've really given me a whole different way of looking at this. I've gotta say, though, that I do still have some concerns. For example, do I want to work at a place that doesn't believe the medications I take for my addiction are legitimate treatment for the disease? I suppose there would be some way of finding that out without disclosing my own situation, but I'm not sure how. They won't be giving me a pre-employment drug screen, so that's not an issue. In a way it might be better if they were because I would disclose the legal prescriptions I take. In this area they do test for bup because it's widely used as a street drug- not so much to get high but people use it to keep from getting dopesick.

And second, as a substance abuse counselor who's been practicing for about 4 yrs., I talk a lot in groups about honesty and that lies of omission are as bad as lies of commission. The issue often comes up in the difference between secrets and privacy. When does privacy become keeping an unhealthy secret? And I feel like I'd be hypocritical working in a place that would disapprove of me if they knew a certain thing about me.

Having said that, your comments have really changed my perspective from where I was at when I initially posted, but I still have some reservations about it.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Employment
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:40 pm 
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Hello, I too am on suboxone therapy. I wanted to share some of what I have learned regarding employment. I am in the medical field. I actually do drug testing as well. My doctor advised me to be careful and not to tell people I am on the therapy he said the least amount of people know the better. Which I agree it's no ones business. I too have been a nervous wreck b/c of the stigma attached to being on suboxone. However, through my online research I came across a great article and forum written by very reputable doctors that stated that you are protected by the ADA Americans with disabilities act. Therefore, a potential or future employer can not hold this against you and use this as a grounds of dismissal. They would have one large law suit ahead of them if they did. I just went on a new job interview and I went ahead and admitted I was on it on the form gave all my information pharmacy, etc. B/c if I hadn't it said if something comes up positive then it would not count as a false positive but a positive if I didn't disclose any type of prescription drugs that I was on. Once they check it and verify your prescriptions are legal and valid they report your urine drug screen as a negative result. I actually am in the medical field I work in a lab and I currently do drug testing my self at work. I'm going to let all of you know something now Buprenorphine is now widely checked for. On a typical urine drug screen its usually a 5 panel to a 10 panel. They can not test for it on those panels however, if it is an 11 to 12 panel it does contain a testing strip for buprenorphine. With that being said I would admit that I was on it b/c if not and they do test for it then it will give a false positive but you typically have to disclose what you are on before the test and some labs will give you the opportunity to prove if it is positive by showing your paper work from the pharmacy a print out or the bottle, box, etc. I was nervous about my test I just took for pre employment however, I was just honest b/c I didn't want it to come back as a false positive!! My form said that the MRO (medical review Officer) which is a doctor that reviews the results would report it as a negative result if you admit that you are on a legal valid prescription. Therefore, that's what I did. I didn't want to be dishonest about it b/c I was afraid that I could get into trouble as the form stated if I wasn't. Besides how would it look if you test positive for something and you have a legal valid prescription for something. Furthermore, in all honesty the drug test are not that expensive that test for buprenorphine especially if the company, facility, or lab buys them in bulk cases. So, if anyone tells you that they are wrong. Now I will say this working off shore for the Coast Guard or operating heavy machinery they are not suppose to take any narcotics b/c of their type of jobs and potentially risk of injuries and lives. Hope this helps anyone that is worried. I just figure it's best to be honest than dishonest b/c then that's a reason for a potential employer not to hire you in the first place. I'm still waiting to hear about my upcoming job. I just finished all of my paper work and they are conducting a back ground check and references, etc. and my drug test results i'm not worried about anything else b/c I do not take anything else other than what is legally prescribed to me which is my suboxone. Even if you are a nurse and on suboxone they can not fire you b/c you are protected by the ADA. Research this and you will find out what I am talking about. No matter if you take it for opiate dependency or for chronic pain therapy.


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