Opiates in the workplace

Just looking for some general answers or experience.

I am currently back in college getting a degree that will help me gain professional employment is this horrible economy.

However, I am wonderig if it's all a waste.

I take several meds to help with the Fibro and Lupus.

The med that helps the most is an opiate. ( I just started Cymbalta so maybe that will start to work in a week or 2 and then I can quit the opiate...thats my hope )

So, I am wondering do any of you work, and take an opiate med?

I take a small dose and only as needed. It does not make me sleepy, dizzy, "high", or anything negative.

When I take an opiate I feel "normal" and like I have some quality of life....

I am just wondering if I will be able to find a job if I am still on it when I graduate?

Part of my mind says "give up school...you will never be able to work"...but I really don't want to give up.

one of my life goals is to get a college degree but am I going into debt for no reason...

Would really like some feedback...

Oh, I'm going to school for a postion in the medical field and you KNOW they drug test. Plus, I would not keep that a secret if my potential employers asked about using "drugs"....



Hi Gemm,

I once “failed” a drug test because I was on darvocet(which they have now taken off the market). All I had to do was show them the prescription bottle and all was fine. They did not ask me why I was on it. It is my understanding that an employer can not legally ask you about your medical conditions unless you sign a release or unless it affects your work performance (missing a lot of work, etc) so I think you will be okay.

Good luck to you!


This is a good question. Usually if you tell an employer that you're on a prescription, it's no big deal. I don't know about an opiate though. I think you need to contact a college that teaches med stuff (not the one you're going to) and ask someone there, like someone who does job placement, if this is an issue. You could also call a med firm like the ones you'd like to work with - but call one that is out of state or somewhere that you won't be applying - and ask the human resource person the question.

It's my opinion that it's demeaning (and should be illegal) to refuse to allow people who are in pain to take their pain medicine.... you wouldn't expect a diabetic to be told to not take insulin, nor would you ask a person with bad vision to remove their glasses. We can't help it that there are people out there who abuse our pain meds. They'll do it no matter what, no matter what limits are put upon the pain meds. I believe that places of employment should allow you your pain meds if you have a valid doctor's excuse and your pain meds won't interfere with your work (like you're stoned but trying to drive during work.)

Asking your Doctor may be your best answer, they are more versed in the legalities of narcotics than I am, a guidance counsleor may also be a good source, but start with your Dr who prescribes it. Sorry I could not be of more help.



Hi Gemm, What will you graduate with? I am a nurse and have worked in a hospital for 24 years, I have never had a drug test, except maybe the day I started, every year I had to do a sm physical like aTB test, weight, blood pressure & update my medical form. I have never listed that I was taking Lortab, mainly because I only took a half of one occaisionally and like you I had no side effects, No one has a right to know what medication you are on, if it does not alter your ability to perform your job, I say it’s not there business. What med do you take? As far as school, if you can get a job when you are done it may be worth the loans you have to take out. Even if you only work part time or for a few years, having that security of knowing you are qualified for a job, may make you feel better :slight_smile:

Hi Petunia Girl, like I said last night, you always have great advice! I finally posted a pic, so you can see me :slight_smile:

Hey dee!

Yes, it is good to see you! Thanks for posting your picture! It helps us to know you better! It took me quite a while to get that Petunia Girl to add her picture, we were able to see just how ornery she really is! LOL!

Thanks all...

I am going for my associates in billing and coding. Once I am employed, I plan to go for my bachelors in Health Info management.

I agree that I should not have to disclose the reason for the opiate ( vicodan )

But I'm quite sure I will be drug tested.

Thanks for asking me to talk to my Rheum doc. I tell her everything, however I never though to ask her about opiates in the workplace.

Like I said though, I just started 60 mg of cymbalta, and I am hoping with every part of my being that it will do what the opiate does. Just take the edge off the pain and give me better functioning day to day.

We will see....sometimes I think too much into the future when I know that everything always works out for the best in the long run...

Yall are just so helpful...I really appreciate each of you!!


Hi Gemm,

I have tramadol which is a strong opiate and I still drive and work (just about) and study too. I'm going to start a degree next month so I'm excited to hear you are doing so well!! Go you!!

I think the general idea is if you can stay with it long enough to complte a degree you are definitely more than capable of doing whetever the heck you want!

I don't know which opiate you are taking but I see you still have your brain so it's all good. Don't give up when you are doing so well. You are doing all the right things and managing just fine. Don't worry about the drug test either (unless you are dabbling elsewhere lol).

Many of us here are completely jealous of your achievements (well me...) so just continue to stay strong and be positive and you will be amazed at how much you can do!

Big hugs from one of your fans!


Lol, it's not good driving to work stoned out your mind if you're an 18 wheeler truck driver! It makes people a bit nervous

Whats ornery? Or did u mean "horney"? lmao!! Crying again lol

Thank you for the picture! It's nice to see you instead of the flowery icon that all members start with. But you look waaaay too young have worked at Macy's for 23 years! See - even fellow fibro sufferers say that other fibro sufferers "look" good!LOL!

Welcome to the club! You're now "official," with your portrait added!

Oh, and I AM ornery! (Insert smiling devil icon.)

Jo, Jo, Jo...tsk, girl, I am definitely NOT horney with this illness. Just ornery old me...stubborn, mulish me.

Haha!! I had to google "ornery" in the end. Only a good friend could say something like that and get away with it lol.

Lmao, you're too funny you guys. Soooooo not true though! lol

If you dont have any of the negative side effects I would not worry about it. You are prescribed the medication legally therefore they can not hold it against you. It doesn’t effect you negatively so you don’t have to disclose taking your prescriptions unless you want to. You dont even have to tell them about your medications. Although if they require a UA and find it you can disclose them then. Do not disclose them before you accept a job. Because eventhough it would be illegal for them to deny you employment because of them more than likely they will deny you employment because of it. I’m not saying lie to them just dont disclose it. You can ask your doctor for a letter saying that you are prescribed these medications for a legitamate medical condition and you can work in a normal environment while administering your medications.

I hope this helps you. Don’t let fibro steal your employment or life dreams hun.

Gentle hugs

Good point, Punkin. I agree to keeping the info to yourself at the time you apply for and accept the job. I myself did disclose prescription drugs I was taking during testing. That way I figured I looked honest by divulging before they saw my anti-depressant on the test.

I too think that a doctor's letter about the prescription would be helpful.

I'm sure you're going to do well in your career. You seem very sincere and eager to succeed. Don't let this illness beat you. You've a right to take meds that help keep you pain free. I think you can get through this issue. But I do think it's worth getting other's advice, as stated above.

Good luck!

Petunia, I have to disagree with you on disclosing your prescriptions during testing. Generally, the only things they are testing for are stuff like illegal drugs, opiates, alcohol. The best thing to do is keep mum until they ask. When I was asked, I simply provided a copy of the prescription bottle and that was that. And at the time I was also taking klonopin, a benzodiazepine, for sleep and it didn’t even show up or it was at a level that didn’t concern them. The darvocet I was taking for a stress fracture showed up but it was no problem with the rx. Sometimes, the less said the better. And, unfortunately, people in our society still judge others who take antidepressants, anti anxiety meds, etc. it sucks and people should be more educated and less judgmental but it is what it is and we just have to learn to adjust and really know who to trust before revealing things.

MP— Petunia was saying it was good to not disclose. Saying she had disclosed the fact “thinking that it would be best.”. However she didn’t say if they denied her employment or not.