Do Pre-Employment Screenings Test for Suboxone?

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A standard pre-employment screening test will not detect Suboxone. A standard drug panel does not test for Suboxone. But employers can choose the substances they search for, and some may order tests that look for the buprenorphine (Brand name Suboxone).

If you have a valid Suboxone prescription, you're protected from descrimination under the law. Bring your prescription to your test and show it to the screening team or to your employer. If you need documentation from your doctor that you have a valid Suboxone prescription, ask them for a letter on your behalf. 

What’s Included in a Typical Pre-Employment Screening Test?

In a typical drug test, the following substances may be tested: [1]

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Opiates 
  • PCP 
  • Propoxyphene

Employers have the option to test for additional substances.[2] Since buprenorphine can be sedating when taken in large doses, your company may choose to look for this medication in your pre-employment screening.

Most employers will simply order a standard drug panel that does not include Suboxone. However, if your employer does test for Suboxone, as long as you have a prescription, they are not allowed to discriminate against you or to fire you. If they do, you can seek legal assistance.

Should You Disclose Your Suboxone Use to an Employer?

If you have a valid prescription for Suboxone, you're protected under the law. However, this does not change the fact that some employers may attempt to discriminate against you regardless. Make sure you are prepared: know your legal rights, Bring your valid prescription to your testing appointment and tell the testing staff, and/or seek a letter from your doctor confirming that you are prescribed this medication legally.

You're not required by law to tell the company or your potential boss that you are taking Suboxone. Your prescriptions are considered private information under the health care law called HIPAA.

However, you have the right or option to disclose any medication you are taking to your employer if you so chose, including Suboxone. You may consider disclosing your Suboxone use to your employer particularly if it poses any risks to you being able to perform your job safely, including operating machinery or driving.

If you have questions about how to handle being on Suboxone while working, reach out to your doctor, or to us here at Bicycle Health.

Sources

  1. Drug Testing Policy (Pre-Employment). Society for Human Resources Management. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/pages/pre-employment-drug-testing-policy.aspx. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Pre-Employment Drug Testing. DISA. https://disa.com/drug-testing/pre-employment-drug-testing. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Comments, Proposed Rules, Industrial Commission, Pain Management. North Carolina Psychiatric Association. https://www.ic.nc.gov/RHuffmanNCPA.pdf. March 2018. Accessed July 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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