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Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone
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Author:  Lillyval [ Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

People in my MAT group will sometimes ask if I’m still on Suboxone, to which I was previously able to answer honestly, no. Now that I am taking it again I don’t know what to say, because I believe my employer would fire me for being on it. Isn’t it ironic - they’re letting me do a pro-MAT group, but they wouldn’t allow an employee to be on it? I hate to be dishonest, but I’m sure even my colleagues would judge me. The ones that are in recovery are 100% 12-step.

Another irony is that I have the group do a little Q & A that is put out by the state. One of the questions is, can an employer fire you if you have a legal prescription for Suboxone or methadone? The answer is “no”, but I’ve heard of it happening to people. It’s been discussed on this forum - not so much being fired, as being denied employment after a pre-employment drug screen.

That is the situation I would be in. I’m currently a contractor, but if they offered me a permanent job I might fail a drug test. Of course, if I admitted to the group that I’m on Sub they would just simply not offer me a job.

Author:  docm2 [ Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Does the clinic that employs you have any Suboxone patients or are they strictly abstinence based?
I am with a fairly large practice but we have only two Suboxone waiver physicians (of 44 providers). Numerous LADC's cover several clinics and programs. When I joined I was assured that they would be open to hiring someone on Suboxone (Methadone as well) as long as they have had at least a year of sobriety, just like anyone else working in the CD programs. I have a couple that are working their way through programs and hope they will be ready in a couple of years.
Is there anyone that you could consider an ally or will it be best to continue DADT (don't ask, don't tell). We don't do drug testing when hiring, and many of the employers around here do not test for Buprenorphine.
Our clinic covers the spectrum, you would have colleagues that shun you and tell you that you aren't in recovery to several that would be strongly in your corner.
Wish you were in a situation when you could be open about it - especially since it has been a good experience for you.

Author:  jennjenn [ Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Hey Lilly!

This situation does suck! I have always wanted a counselor that is personally experienced with addiction. My clinic has went through about 4 since the 6 years I've been there. Every time a new one would come in I'd always find out if they'd ever been addicted to opiates or anything else drug wise. I know it's not a have to but for me personally it helps. Further than that, I've really wanted someone also experienced personally with buprenorphine. What better person to counsel buprenorphine patients? That's only my opinion and I always think to myself 'yeah right jenn that'll be the day' but it's actually happening with u and honestly I'm jealous of ur group having the opportunity to have someone like u lol! It's amazing from my perspective. I don't understand why the 'higher ups' wouldn't think the same way.

I agree with the 'don't ask don't tell' option. That's what I'd do in ur position. Truthfully it isn't anyone's business but urs anyway so for now I'd just ride it out without saying much. But I think u will totally make the right decision and be fine no matter what. Good luck with this Lilly!!

Author:  Lillyval [ Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

The treatment program I work for is actually within a corrections facility. That’s why they are so strict, and that’s also why I believe they would test for Suboxone, because it is such a big issue in jails. I hadn’t really thought this much about it until I started this thread - if one of my clients tested positive for Suboxone and they knew I was on it, I wonder if I would automatically be the prime suspect? That’s a really scary thought.

Also, in re: Jenn, none of my clients are currently on MAT, they are considering going on, or going BACK on MAT when they get out. The jail pushes REALLY hard for Vivitrol, which is a whole other topic for discussion.

My goal and vision for the future is to allow inmates (especially low level drug offenders with short sentences) be maintained on their Suboxone or methadone in jail. It’s going to be a while, but the fact that it’s even been said aloud is a huge first step.

And if I really want to dream big, what about decriminalizing addiction.....

Author:  rule62 [ Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Hold on Lilly you're starting to make sense. Heaven forbid that the workplace, government, and the whole planet gets educated about the benefits of Suboxone. It is so easy for us to see the recovery results of being on it vs abstinence or Vivitrol induction. But trying to convince a professional who has degrees on the wall is another story indeed. No doctor will tolerate being corrected by a patient or an employee. They need to find it out by themselves or by another peer.

I was all set to write a letter to the Chief Medical Officer for BCBS who sent me the letter denying the continuation of my Suboxone. In my head I had already thought about including the blogs of Dr. Junig and other official studies conducted by certifiable scientists. Then she approved it and so goes my letter writing. Dr. Junig and docm2 have been trying their best to inform those in charge but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Maybe I'll still do a letter and then decide where to send it.

You're in a tight spot with the job. For the time being you can always answer by way of a politician and deflect it to say something like "would it make a difference if I was?". Or something along those lines. I just wish there was something we all could do to help. Another best person for the job being denied employment due to a minor detail that means nothing. Actually, being on it makes you a better employee and example of someone who is successful while continuing maintenance. Unfortunately, they don't see it that way. The world is still flat to most people when we try to tell them about MAT opiate recovery.

A very disturbing thread. All these years now and we're still fighting to be recognized.

Author:  jennjenn [ Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Ohhhh Lilly I didn't know that, I thought u worked in a rehab or clinic setting for some reason, sorry about that. I think a counselor who's familiar with addiction personally makes the best counselor because they can relate so well to other addicts. One counselor I had a few years ago was introducing herself and she said 'I'm not going to pretend to know what you're going through because the only thing I can really relate to addiction is cigarettes'. When she said that I realized, for me personally, how great it would be to have someone in recovery in that position.

Now I definitely understand the position ur in with ur job. For some reason, buprenorphine seems to be talked about a whole lot with ppl sneaking it in the jails.

I think it's awesome to have that type of group in jails. The jail I frequently vacationed at during my using days had zero stuff like that for addicts. Most of the women I met there were addicts and charged with drug offenses.

Author:  Lillyval [ Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Jenn - the reason you thought that was because I did work as a substance abuse counselor in a methadone clinic before starting this job. I really think that was a better fit for me, but I just couldn’t keep working all the unpaid overtime doing endless paperwork.

Rule - they haven’t even offered me a permanent job yet. I’m just anticipating what could happen in the future, and being careful about what I disclose in the meantime.

Author:  Lillyval [ Wed Dec 20, 2017 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

So I flat out lied to a new member of my MAT group yesterday and said I was no longer on Suboxone - in front of the rest of the group and another staff member. I’m glad I had a chance to work through it on this forum before it came up again, but it really goes against my grain (and my beliefs about recovery) to lie.
On the other hand it isn’t a simple yes or no question. I’m not treating withdrawals, and taking 1mg 2x per day is not providing a blocking effect. And I’m certainly not going to get into my psychiatric history with the group. Also, I think especially in a corrections facility, it’s not a good idea to let the residents know what meds one is on.
In other news, I was asked to speak at a (semi) public forum about my addiction, recovery and use of MAT. I was asked by another staff member who is in recovery and supports MAT.

Author:  Amy-Work In Progress [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Substance abuse counselor on Suboxone

Well, Lilly, you can still make a real difference in the way you discuss MAT and your experience with it. We are still at the point of making inroads into communities that would have never accepted MAT before. In some ways it's necessary to go slowly and not upset the apple cart. There are people who loudly pronounce their success with still being on MAT (like me). We need both kinds of progress! Slower progress that doesn't threaten, that get the people acquainted with the idea, and those of us who have nothing to lose by being outspoken. It's all important! So don't lose heart. :)

Amy

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