The barriers put up to people diagnosed with addiction can be severe, with societal attitudes contributing to poor self-esteem. Fortunately, the system is geared to be on your side and help you maintain your health. In January, Volvo paid $70k to a recovering addict after they had refused to hire on the basis of his medical information, which stated his use of an opioid addiction medicine. Regulation will back up workers with addiction problems, but the process can be stressful and harmful to your health – the opposite of what you need during your recovery.
Staying abreast of federal issues and being aware of your rights is the key to re-establishing yourself in society during and after your recovery. Studies have shown that feeling valued and building self-esteem is crucial to strong mental health, and that can be hampered by societal attitudes. Luckily, there’s a lot that can be done to help support your state of wellbeing.
Knowing your status and negotiating with employers
The first thing to bear in mind with your addiction is that it is, legally, classed as a disability. Would-be employees have certain immutable rights that an employer can not overlook, at risk of fines or out-of-court settlement as Volvo discovered. However, some employers take a narrow view when assessing addiction and don’t correctly assess other disorders, such as food addiction, as addictions, despite recognition by the American Psychiatric Association. If you have been diagnosed with a condition, or are at the first step after undergoing the rehab process, be assertive and impress upon your employer your specific needs. They are legally bound to conform and come to a reasonable arrangement with you to both of your benefits. Introducing reasonable adjustments into your work life could be crucial to helping your recovery; a 2015 study of US patients by the University of Oxford found that reasonable adjustments have a positive effect on mental health.
The limit of your rights
Whilst employers have a legal responsibility to not discriminate on grounds of addiction, there are limits within certain roles. For instance, it is not discriminatory for an employer to refuse manual work, or forklift operation, to someone on addiction medication that impairs their cognitive ability. This is true for performance, too, with employer consultants SRHM noting that employers are not required to adjust performance for those who’s addiction is the cause for any sub-standard workplace performance. Be mindful, and keep an open dialogue with your would-be employer, who is encouraged to be considerate of individual circumstances. Once again, this can be a crucial step in maintaining your strong mental health, a key component of addiction recovery, and continuing your recovery in the workplace where your self confidence will continue to develop.
The changing legislation
In response to the US’s swelling opioid crisis, there is a 58-part mega bill weaving its way through the halls of power. Designed to counter a huge range of factors contributing to the opioid epidemic, it may have effects on other parts of society. One aspect of the bill will reduce publicly subsidized access to addiction treatment as a balancing effect to what is predicted to be a reduced prescription rate of opioids. However, this may impact on other types of addiction, and the ability of those diagnosed to access care. Of course, the bill will impact on a state level, too. Stay aware of the bill as it progresses, regularly reassess your own cover arrangements, and ensure that you are in a secure place as the regulation shifts. The restriction in access to care could be detrimental to your health and it will be important to plan ahead for any eventuality.
Employment is a key aspect of feeling productive, self-development and producing self-esteem. For many recovering addicts, it can be difficult to obtain worthwhile employment with respectful bosses. However, the rights of those recovering from addiction are clearly set in law; with knowledge in hand and determination, you can back yourself with confidence.