What is it about?

The objective of this article is to understand the ADA’s definition of disability and how it applies to addiction and recovery. The reader will recognize how the ADA applies to people with addiction to alcohol and those in recovery from substance abuse. The article will describe the rights and responsibilities employers and employees have in the three stages of employment.

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Why is it important?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is sweeping civil rights legislation that affords people with disabilities equality of opportunity, economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and full participation in daily life. The protections of the ADA extend to individuals with alcohol and substance abuse disorders who are in recovery.


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in alcoholism and substance abuse. Individuals living with addiction are unaware of the employment protections they may have under the ADA. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees employment protections to ensure equality in the workplace for people with disabilities. A clearer understanding of the law will ensure that job seekers and employees are treated in an ethical, valued, and courteous way when disclosing disability and the need for accommodation.

Barry Whaley
Syracuse University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Americans with Disabilities Act, addiction, and recovery, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, May 2023, IOS Press,
DOI: 10.3233/jvr-230018.
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