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All across this country in small towns, rural areas and cities, alcoholism and drug abuse are destroying the lives of men, women and their families. Where to turn for help? What to do when friends, dignity and perhaps employment are lost?

The answer is Palm Partners Recovery Center. It’s a proven path to getting sober and staying sober.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act Helps Addicts Who Need Treatment

The Americans with Disabilities Act Helps Addicts Who Need Treatment

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

The vast majority of people struggling with addiction are actually employed. In fact, too many people actually never try to get help for their addiction because they think that having a job means they are not that far gone. However, being a ‘functioning addict’ does not make you any less addicted. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) actually noted some time ago that 76% of people with substance abuse problems are employed. Unfortunately, too many of them also avoid getting treatment because they fear doing so could actually hurt their careers.

What many may not realize is how things like the Americans with Disabilities Act helps addicts with treatment by protecting them from discrimination.

What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, commonly referred to as the ADA, is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on disability. It protects individuals with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in:

  • Public accommodations
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • State and local government services
  • Telecommunications

People with disabilities deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, and the ADA is designed to ensure they have them.

One thing that makes the ADA so important is that it requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

How Does ADA Define Disability?

To be clear, employees undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol addiction have always been covered under the ADA. The ADA defines a disability as:

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a history of having such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was charged with interpreting the 1990 law, and ended up EEOC developing regulations limiting an individual’s impairment to one that “severely or significantly restricts” a major life activity.

Later on the ADAAA directed the EEOC to amend this regulation and replace “severely or significantly” with “substantially limits”.

The ADA added a few extra As around 18 years later.

In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law and became effective on January 1, 2009. The implementation of the ADAAA made a number of significant changes to the definition of disability. The ADAAA also added to the ADA examples of “major life activities” including, but not limited to:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Bending
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Working

They also included the operation of several specified major bodily functions. If we look at all of these criteria, it is not that surprising that alcoholism and drug addiction would qualify.

How Does Americans with Disabilities Act Help Addicts?

Addiction stigma is one of the hardest hurdles for most people to have to overcome when trying to find addiction treatment. A lot of people never even seek out the help because they are afraid their job or career would be jeopardized. But the ADA helps alcoholics and addicts by protecting them.

  • ADA and Alcoholics

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Technical Assistance Manual: Title I of the ADA,

“A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection simply because of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with a disability under the ADA and may be entitled to consideration of accommodation, if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of a job. However, an employer may discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct to the extent that s/he is not ‘qualified.’ ”

While ADA regulations may permit allowances for alcoholism, illegal drug use is never protected. However, addicts who are recovering are protected under the ADA.

  • ADA and Addicts

According to the EEOC’s manual:

“Persons addicted to drugs, but who are no longer using drugs illegally and are receiving treatment for drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated successfully, are protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.”

So if you were to take a drug test and it shows that you are using an illicit substance you disqualify yourself from ADA protections.

How it Helps with Treatment

Fear of losing a job or sabotaging your financial future is a huge obstacle for most people who desperately need addiction treatment but are afraid to ask for help. Too many people think they will be black-listed or discriminated against for their struggles with drugs or alcohol. Breaking the stigma is essential to helping more people recover.

The ADA helps by treating alcoholics and addicts like people suffering from an illness or disability instead of punishing them. It protects your right to get help, as long as you don’t violate the policies of your profession. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily protect people actively using drugs or alcohol. You can still face the consequences that come with it despite the ADA protections.

If you are attending a rehabilitation program, or you have successfully completed a program of rehabilitation, you are covered under the ADA. To find out more about these and other protections, look into the opportunities you are eligible for with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) offered through your company.

Discrimination is always wrong, and discrimination against people recovering from substance use disorder is no different. People who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction need to be supported, especially when it comes to maintaining the aspects of their life that help them build a future. Know your rights and be aware of the protections in place so that you don’t put it off until it is too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Does rehab go on your record?

Does drug rehab go on your record

If you are looking to go to rehab you probably have many different concerns, especially when it comes to your privacy. You may not want anyone such as future employers or school to know that you have had a problem with drugs and alcohol. This is where your health care rights come into play and it is a question that is very commonly asked; does rehab go on your record?

The answer is, as a patient in a rehab, one of your major rights is to have your rehab health record kept as private and confidential.

Unless you have specifically provided written consent for release of your medical records to a third party, your rehab health record and information will be kept confidential. It is completely understandable that you want to feel safe when deciding to sign up for rehab and part of that safety is knowing that your health record will be kept private. There are exceptions to the rule though. For instance if a court orders the release of your records, then you will have to share that information but for the most part you will not have to worry about anyone getting a copy of your rehab records unless you say it is alright.

The laws behind whether or not rehab goes on your record

PRIVACY LAWS

  • In the early 1970’s, Congress recognized that the stigma associated with substance abuse and fear of prosecution deterred people from entering treatment. So they enacted legislation that gave patients a right to confidentiality. For the almost three decades since the Federal confidentiality regulations were issued, confidentiality has been a cornerstone practice for substance abuse treatment programs across the country and are what you probably know as HIPPAA laws or the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically such as rehabs.  The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patient’s rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.

  • The federal Public Health Services Act includes comprehensive privacy rules that protect the confidentiality of rehab records. Established by Congress in part to encourage substance abusers to seek treatment, the regulations are some of the most protective confidentiality rules in federal law.

EMPLOYMENT LAWS

One the biggest laws that protects your rights as a rehabilitated addict is the American With Disabilities Act or ADA.

The ADA provides that any employee or job applicant who is “currently engaging” in the illegal use of drugs is not a “qualified individual with a disability.” Therefore, an employee who illegally uses drugs, whether the employee is a casual user or an addict, is not protected by the ADA if the employer acts on the basis of the illegal drug use. As a result, an employer does not violate the ADA by uniformly enforcing its rules prohibiting employees from illegally using drugs. However, “qualified individuals” under the ADA include those individuals:

  • who have been successfully rehabilitated and who are no longer engaged in the illegal use of drugs
  • who are currently participating in a rehabilitation program and are no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs
  • who are regarded, erroneously, as illegally using drugs.

An employer may make certain pre-employment, pre-offer inquiries regarding use of alcohol or the illegal use of drugs. An employer may ask whether an applicant drinks alcohol or whether he or she is currently using drugs illegally. However, an employer may not ask whether an applicant is a drug abuser or alcoholic, or inquire whether he or she has ever been in rehab.

If you or someone you love is looking for a drug rehab, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/ada/ch4.htm

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/privacyrule/index.html

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/hipaa/privacynoticessa.shtm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehabilitation_Act_of_1973

http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/2006_mar_labor.html

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