Although I write mostly about Migraine disease and headaches, I have a great deal in common with many readers here on ChronicPainConnection. As many of you, I have had periods in my life when I needed “narcotics” to function. Shoot, even with my Migraines and headaches well controlled, there are still times when I take opioids to relieve pain and be able to function – times when my Migraine medications don’t work, times when arthritis pain breaks through the Celebrex I take every day for osteoarthritis.
Looking through the questions here on ChronicPainConnection, I’ve noticed quite a few of them about drug screening. There have been times when I was concerned about pre-employment drug screenings. Would I pass them? Would taking opioids keep me from getting a job I sorely needed? Thankfully, a frank conversation with my doctor got me through those times. Yes, I “passed” the screening; and, yes, I got the job
My doctor advised me to avoid making a big deal of taking opioids and that part of that was accepting that the “narcotics” I needed were 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 everything you’re taking at the time of the screening, you will NOT “fail” the screening. You will pass with flying colors!
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.