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Is it illegal to drive/work while on narcotics?

LovinggardenerLLovinggardener Posts: 494
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Pain Medications
My surgeon does not want me to drive on narcotics. While my pain doctors never said anything about not driving. I have to say that I don't get high from narcotics because my body adjusted to it a long time ago. Even now I take three Lortabs a day and I don't feel any side effects (not even constipation). I am adhering to my doctor's order right now, so I don't drive or work. I don't want to get him or myself in trouble.

My internist refused to give me more pain pills. I had to go find a pain doctor. Didn't even know such doctors existed until my internist refused to help me with me pain. Well...she is not my internist anymore.


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    It is illegal. Surgeons will tell you your not released to drive until your off of your pain meds.
    Pain management doctors have never said anything to me about this subject. I think surgeons are much more worried about medical law suits.
    There has been a lot of discussions on this forum about driving while taking meds. There are many different opinions and many different posts on that subject. And where as there may be "gray" areas. It is none the less illegal in the eyes of the law.
    Good luck,Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Jim is right on.

    I've never heard of it being illegal to WORK while on medication-but I could see cases where it would/could/might be.The best thing to do in that case would be to simply talk to your superviser about your medications.Most work places nowadays do random drug tests-if you discuss your meds with your boss/superviser,you won't have to worry about failing a drug test.

    I do know that if a person gets injured while on the job and has to go to the ER for treatment that workmens comp won't have to pay if a person is taking medication that your boss is unaware of.Now there are loopholes in this,and I'm not a lawyer or here to get into a urinating contest (lol-j/k)-but always best to talk to your boss and have these things charted.

    Not that I did this back when I was working,but it's always easier to give advice than it is to take it.Or was anyway--I can now take advice much better than I could all those years ago.. :^o
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  • I should have searched for answers before posting this question. Thanks for the tip.

    I am hoping that my surgery will keep me from taking narcotics. It is interesting that none of my pain doctors ever said anything about not driving. I didn't even know that Fentanyl patches were very powerful med. Believe it or not I did not feel anything, not even pain relief.

    Ultimately what made me stop driving temporarily was the pain itself.

  • driving under the influence is driving under the influence...those colorful stickers on the bottles aren't just there for decoration...driving while taking many of the popular spinal meds is very unwise due to the wide variety of side effects. not to mention many of our own muscle spasm, nerve pains, numbness, and other limitations that make us possibly less than safe on the road.

    think very carefully my spiney friends the next time you drive! :?
  • I am not driving. I am under my surgeon's care and order.
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  • Personally, I would not recommend asking "permission" for your medications or even discussing them with your supervisor in the workplace. Frankly, it's none of their business and not information they have a right to know, unless the use of drugs is specifically addressed in your job description. Bringing up that topic without a very good reason is just putting a target on your back for discrimination and stereotyping.

    As far as random drugs screenings in the workplace - those apply to use of illegal drugs, not drugs prescribed to you by a physician for a medical reason. For the vast majority of people, their use of pain medication on the job is not only legal, it's protected under the Americans with Disabilities act, so long as the drugs themselves don't interfere with your ability to complete your essential job functions.

  • I never thought about telling my supervisor about it until my surgeon mentioned it. For about 10 years I have been on narcotics on four occasions and never thought about telling my supervisor. And when my pain got unbearable and had to take a lot of meds, I missed work for those days. I even got docked, because I get less than 10 days of personal/sick day in a school year.

    First, I do believe telling my supervisor about my health issues could put me in jeopardy of discrimination or not being rehired. Second, I also agree it is none of their business. This is the first time my back pain last longer than a month and I had to tell my supervisor about my condition. Initially, I felt embarrassed that I had to tell my supervisor about being in pain and having to break the news about missing work for surgical recovery.

    I know that I am on long term disability. Really don't know what that includes except I will be paid while I am not working. Bionicwomen, how does one qualify for American Disability Act? This question sounds awkward, but how do I know that I qualify for ADA.
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  • You qualify for protection under the ADA just by having a chronic condition.

    There's a ton of information on the ADA website: http://www.ada.gov
    Q. Who is protected from employment discrimination?

    A. Employment discrimination is prohibited against "qualified individuals with disabilities." This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

    The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability is covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu, generally would not be covered.

    The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

    The third part of the definition protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement from being denied employment because an employer feared the "negative reactions" of customers or co-workers.

    Q. Who is a "qualified individual with a disability?"

    A. A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the oeessential functionsî of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.
  • By my PCP and Orthopedic doctors that even though we adapt and do not seem or act impaired after taking narcotics long term. We will test positive for Opiates etc, and therefor will by quilty of DUI.

    I operate in a gray area and hope things work out. I do not take any pain meds until I arrive at work. I do not take any pain meds after 11:00 am. I take my meds as soon as I walk in the door after work. I pray levels in my blood when I do drive will not be enough to convict me of anything...I have so many things to worry about, adding not being able to drive at all would really depress me more!
    I have actually been pressuring my boss to allow me to work through lunch so I can get home an hour earlier and take my meds. So far he has allowed me to do this against company policy. Is any of this for real? Pinch me please...

    Bionic, are these the "new" ADA guidelines? I read in the paper that as of Jan 1st, IIRC, the guidelines are more in our favor. They allow us more in the way of accomidations before we can be tossed to the curb. If I read it and remember it correctly, my boss allowing me to kep working these last two years under my currecnt limitations makes it very difficult for them to now say they can't use me! :)

    Personally, I am all too tired on these long days, pain and misery. Even with my SCS coming up it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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