Alcohol ADDICTION and illegal drug use are treated differently under the ADA. Alcohol addiction is generally considered a disability, whether the consumption of alcohol is in the present or in the past. For people with an addiction to opioids and other drugs, the ADA only protects people in recovery who are no longer using drugs illegally. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines alcoholism and drug addiction as disabilities.
Because alcohol addiction is considered a mental impairment, employers cannot take action against an employee solely because of this disability. It also means that employees cannot be disciplined just because they have an alcohol addiction, and reasonable accommodations must be made for the disability. Failure to provide accommodations to a person with alcohol addiction would be unlawful discrimination under the ADA. The named plaintiffs were two Exxon employees who had been working as flight engineers but were demoted to mechanics in 1994 when asked if they had a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
At the same time, the ADA provides limited protection against discrimination for recovering drug addicts and for alcoholics. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically allows employers to ensure that the workplace is free from illegal drug and alcohol use, and to comply with other federal laws and regulations related to drug and alcohol use. This doesn't mean you can't get approval for a physical or mental condition caused by a drug addiction. The medical evidence needed to win your claim will depend on the condition you suffer from as a result of your drug addiction.
Even if your drug addiction caused the physical or mental problems in the first place, you would still be entitled to benefits. The SSA recognizes a category of disability called substance addiction disorder, which recognizes the fact that chronic alcohol abuse can result in serious disability. For example, the ADA recognizes alcohol addiction as a disability and provides protection, whether the addiction is current or past. The following overview covers current disability laws, how addictions are classified, and what benefits are available to people struggling with drugs or alcohol.
While it provides protection against current alcoholism, it does not protect people who are currently abusing drugs. This is due to the way the brain reacts to these substances and the way in which the chronic and progressive nature of addiction develops. If a person tests positive for a drug, they will be considered a current drug user, as long as the test is accurate. While there may be some aspect of choice when taking a substance for the first time, addiction is considered a disease in the medical community.
But if you continue to use medications, even prescription drugs, if you use more than your doctor prescribed, the SSA will definitely make a determination by the DAA to decide if your deficiencies would go away if you stopped using drugs.
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