Addiction is rarely defined by the masses as a disability. It is often instead thought to be the consequences of poor decisions and apathy – and this is not entirely untrue. The abuse of substances (whether hard drugs or alcohol) is reliant on the individual. Personal responsibility cannot be denied.
There is a distinction, however, between the casual addict and the crippled soul. And such a distinction has been recognized by the federal government: the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was drafted to protect the rights of those with disabilities and to ensure they were not mistreated by an all too cruel public (such as being denied medication, being refused the appropriate counsel, or being fired without just cause). This was a revolutionary law – and an essential one.
Its parameters were not limited to the typical injuries, however. They instead discussed those with substance abuse problems. Within Section 504, it is stated that those with any form of impairment cannot be released from employment unless that impairment has become too great of a burden or has not been offered any necessary care. Drug addictions are not to be excuses for dismissals, assuming an individual is involved with some form of treatment program and has been taking obvious steps to correct himself.
Should those corrections be too meager, however, then the individual is no longer protected and can be fired accordingly. Employers must be aware of all circumstances to determine the proper actions to take. It should also be noted that those with drug concerns must still be able to perform their work duties correctly, even while being treated.
Addiction is considered a disability. It is not, though, as tightly protected as the more accepted forms are. It’s defined instead by the efforts of the user and his decision to seek help from organizations like MichaelsHouse.com. If he does this, he is not to be refused.