The Issue

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and other laws protect qualified individuals with current, past or perceived disabilities against discrimination. Individuals with current alcohol problems, and those with past or perceived alcohol or illegal drug use problems, are protected against discrimination under these laws. Individuals currently using illegal drugs are not protected against discrimination under these laws, although they may not be excluded from or denied health services or other services provided in connection with drug rehabilitation if they are otherwise entitled to such services. When someone makes the transition from currently using illegal drugs to having used in the past is sometimes unclear under the law. Concerns that coming forward with a drug problem could result in discrimination keep some people from getting treatment that could improve their health.

Current Initiatives

  • Advocating to eliminate discrimination facing people with addiction histories, including those in recovery.

Legal Action Center’s Policy Recommendations

  • Protection in all phases of addiction and recovery:  Ensuring that legal protections and anti-discrimination laws apply to people in early recovery and individuals who are willing to go into treatment would help prevent employment and other forms of discrimination and encourage individuals to seek the treatment and recovery support they need.
  • Strong anti-discrimination enforcement: The ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, FHA, and other anti-discrimination laws must be enforced so that individuals will not be afraid to go into SUD treatment and recovery when they are employed, or seek new employment once they are in recovery.

Learn More

To learn more about this issue, visit our Substance Use Resources.

To learn more about LAC’s impact, see our Accomplishments.


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