Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2008 Sue M, Community Member, asks

Q: drug screen for employment when taking narcotics for pain

I want to change jobs, most employers require a drug screen, I will not pass due to pain meds,I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome stage 2 and fibromyalgia.  I can no longer teach special ed due to 7 hours of standing and job stress.  Has anyone applied for a job, faliled a drug screen due to  pain related meds and been able to be hired?  The stigma over narcotic use when you don't have cancer is still pretty bad. Any words from the wise?

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Answers (3)
Cort, Health Guide
9/14/08 1:36pm

My understanding - which may be wrong - is that drug tests do a first general pass for narcotics. If that test is positive then they will (hopefully) do a second pass to find out specifically showed up. At that point you should be able to show them your prescription and pass the test. 


I think one problem is that some employers may not do the second test. You should probably check with your prospective employer and see what their criteria are for drug tests. You shouldn't be discriminated against simply because you have to take doctor prescribed drugs - particularly on top of dealing with these difficult diseases!


Good luck.  

Teri Robert, Health Guide
9/14/08 2:09pm



I've been in just this position, so I asked my doctor how to handle it. He said to avoid making a big deal of it and that part of that was accepting that the "narcotics" I need are as essential to me as insulin to someone with type 1 diabetes. He said that the best way to get others to treat my need for medications as a "normal" part of life was to start accepting it that way myself.


As for the drug screening, he advised me to take my prescription bottle and a note he wrote for me to the screening with me. I couldn't believe how easily it went. I took the meds and note to the screening and showed them to the person doing registration. She made note of the medication on the intake form and attached the note from my doctor. My medications were no problem.


Keep in mind that the main point of drug screening for employment is to check for illicit drug use, not to "catch" you taking medications that have been prescribed for you. In cases where the job requires operation of heavy equipment, a second reason for the screening may be to be sure candidates have disclosed all medications that could be problematic.


I've also been in management positions where reviewing the results of drug screenings was part of my job. Every report was favorable as long as candidates gave the screener a complete list of medications and supplements they were taking.


Bottom line? As long as you disclose what you're taking at the time of the screening, you will NOT "fail" the screening. You will pass with flying colors!


Good luck,

Teri Robert

julie carrino, Community Member
10/ 9/12 12:16pm

I am also on pain meds for many years now.  My previous job in a hospital did the usual drug screening and I never worried about explaining my prescription meds. Before the test, I told the screener I have been on pain meds for many years, and the only thing she said was bring in your perscription with you. I passed without any other questions asked. I hope this will apply for my next position I am about to start. I dont see the big deal if you have a valid script. I hope this helps for all others in the same position as I. 

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By Sue M, Community Member— Last Modified: 10/09/12, First Published: 09/14/08