Methadone Maintenance Treatment & Employment: What Are My Rights?

For over 50 years, methadone maintenance treatment has remained the treatment standard for helping recovering addicts overcome the effects of chronic opiate addiction. Methadone maintenance treatment, also known as MMT, offers addicts considerable relief from the residual effects of opiate addiction on the body. MMT also includes a behavioral component that works to address the damaging effects opiate addiction has on a person’s thinking and behavioral styles.

While methadone’s use in addiction treatment is well known, some workplace environments lack an understanding how methadone maintenance treatment works. Under these conditions, a person’s workplace rights may be infringed upon to the detriment of his or her recovery process. Understanding your rights in the workplace goes a long way towards ensuring you can take advantage of MMT benefits without compromising your employment status.

Methadone’s Purpose in Opiate Addiction Treatment

Chronic opiate addictions leave behind certain aftereffects that make it difficult for recovering addicts to maintain abstinence for any length of time. According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, methadone, a synthetic opiate drug, helps to relieve these effects in recovery, which greatly increases the likelihood of ongoing abstinence. Methadone’s therapeutic effectiveness relies on proper dosage administration throughout the course of treatment.

Methadone Maintenance Treatment Components

MMT and employment

During the early stages of MMT, you’ll likely need to take time off from work for dosage adjustments.

While medication treatment makes up a big part of the MMT process, methadone’s effects only address the physical aftereffects of addiction, leaving the psychological aspect of addiction unchanged. For these reasons, methadone maintenance treatment also includes a behavioral component that’s designed to help a person undo the damaging effects of addiction on his or her lifestyle. Behavioral treatment interventions used include:

  • Psychotherapy sessions
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Drug education and counseling
  • Regular support group attendance

Your Rights Under the Law

Under federal law, people recovering from addiction have the same rights as people living with physical disabilities. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, two pieces of legislation uphold your rights in the workplace in this respect: the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Rehabilitation Act. In effect, these federal protections require employers to make certain accommodations for employees receiving methadone maintenance treatment.

Medical Leave Options

Ongoing dosage adjustments can be expected during the early stages of methadone maintenance treatment. In some circumstances, a person may need to take time off from work during these times. Federal law prohibits employers from denying a person medical leave for MMT treatment purposes.

Drug Testing Provisions

As many employers conduct periodic and sometimes, random drug testing on their employees, methadone’s classification as an opiate drug may raise some red flags. In the event a drug test comes up positive, employers must waive these results as long as you can provide documentation that shows you’re currently receiving methadone maintenance treatment

How to Make the Most of Methadone Maintenance Treatment

Other Workplace Provisions

As people receiving MMT must attend all scheduled sessions as a condition of methadone treatment, other workplace provisions exist to ensure a person can meet his or her MMT program requirements. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, your workplace rights in this respect include:

  • Cannot be terminated on the basis of time spent in treatment
  • Employers are required to make reasonable scheduling accommodations when a person has therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments or other treatment requirements to fulfill
  • Employers may have to restructure a person’s job responsibilities to accommodate his or her mental or physical condition
  • Employers cannot deny employment to a job applicant on the basis of his or her participation in MMT

Ultimately, a person’s workplace rights while in methadone maintenance treatment help to protect one’s job status while supporting his or her efforts in recovery.

If you have any further questions about MMT or other treatment-related workplace issues, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-891-9360 for more information. Our phone counselors can also help connect you with methadone maintenance treatment programs in your area.