Saturday, July 18, 2020

Big Problems When DOT Supervisors Drink with Their Employees

by Toni Burns, contributing author

DOT reasonable suspicion training
for DOT regulated supervisors is a required and positive education process to  support and guide supervisors through the identification and referral of employees who may exhibit signs and symptoms of being under the influence.

There are slippery issues however that remain unaddressed by the DOT regulations when it comes to relationships with subordinates. In fact, the DOT can't touch these issues.

Let's discuss one: Dual and inappropriate relationships.


Required under federal law, DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training mandates that certain employers involved in transportation-related fields train their supervisors in identifying the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use and abuse.

When a company implements a Reasonable Suspicion Program it is important that the supervisor feels confident and comfortable in their role. This type of training only increases the safety of a company’s work-site, of their workforce, and the public.

But what about the DOT supervisor who has been trained in Reasonable Suspicion training who also drinks with an employee during or after work hours?

A DOT supervisor is a professional. Inherent in their supervisory role is a professional relationship with the DOT employees he or she supervises. Sounds simple enough and straight forward.
Supervisors are also humans, prone toward social connections, as are employees. In fact, most professional supervisory – employee relationships benefit from strong supervisor-employee connections. When a supervisor takes a personal interest in their employees’ lives outside the workplace, employees typically demonstrate positive behaviors.

Positive workplace behaviors associated with healthy supervisor-employee connections include:

· Strengthened workplace connections
· Higher commitment/ lower turn-over and increased loyalty
· Increased productivity and efficiency
· Higher motivation
· Improved self- regulation and self-awareness
· Decreased tardiness and sick days

However, many employees who struggle with substance abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, will abuse on the job and/off the job as well. The issues are compounded when a DOT supervisor socializes with those employees during or after work where drinking or drugging is involved.

Supervisors often are the first line of defense against substance abuse in the workplace. It can be difficult to approach an employee under reasonable suspicion as addiction can cause people to behave in unpredictable ways.

Some employees may make excuses or try to manipulate supervisors to get out of the situation, or even implicate the supervisor who partied with them. In some rare instances, employees may become violent when their addiction is brought to light when confronted with substance abuse on the job.


 When the supervisor is a drinking buddy as well, you can see where a blurring of lines complicates things. The professional line between supervisor and employee is now a narrow thin line. What would once be clear protocols for documentation, confrontation and reporting are now personal and can be awkward.

When a DOT supervisor steps from supervisor role into a social drinking role and where that employee is suspected of behaviors and activities of abuse, the supervisor is enabling. He or she inadvertently undermines the DOT Reasonable Suspicion Program. When supervisors or upper management participates in drinking, on the job or off, with their employees, they reinforce an acceptance of a workplace culture tolerant of substance abuse.

What are the costs of blurred professional roles between DOT supervisors and employees?

When an employee with a substance abuse problem is not identified, reported and provided appropriate supports, the bottom-line impact for the DOT and others is far reaching:

· The DOT cost of diverting company resources
· Cost associated with medical and social problems of the employee and family members
· Liability of impaired job performance threatens the safety and health of the employee(s) 
      and the public – increased risk and exposure
· Increased risk of accidents both on and off the job
· Poor job performance
· Decreased efficiency, problem solving, and decision making leading to more complex issues
· Theft
· Increased sick time and three times as many tardy days; lower productivity; sleeping on the job
· Five times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim
· Increased likelihood of relationship problems with co-workers, friends and family
· Employee financial problems
· Mood and behavior instability
· Potential for violence
· Public image damage
· Increased risk of lawsuits

"How do I connect with my employees without socializing where alcohol or other substances involved?"
Twenty three percent of upper management and eleven percent of first line supervisors reported having a drink during the work day, compared to eight percent of hourly employees. Supervisors and upper management should inspire healthy work and personal behaviors by setting standards and create a work culture that does not endorse substance use or abuse. DOT supervisors have a day to day responsibility to model healthy behaviors and to monitor employees of the same.

When DOT supervisors set healthy boundaries that establish clear professional relationships that also foster work place personal rapport and trust, professional boundaries are established and maintained. Without healthy professional boundaries, confronting a DOT employee who is suspected of abusing substances can become complicated, personal and difficult to address.

In short, the supervisor may become a part of the problem itself.

It’s fine to occasionally socialize with the team so they’ll see you as a human being and to meet their families. Socializing for drinks after work or during work though is a big No, filled with potential pitfalls and conflict of interest. Employees still need to respect you as a leader who makes tough decisions when you need to. There’s a risk of being too cozy with an employee whom you may need to report, review, or even terminate. You may miss out on some of the fun, but it is going to be a lot easier to be a manager when the time comes if the lines aren’t blurred and a level of professionalism is maintained.

DOT supervisors must first:

· Ensure that everyone in the workplace understands that a drug-free workplace is more likely to be a safe, healthy, and productive workplace
 
· Inform everyone in the workplace about the specifics of the policy and about available strategies and programs that support a drug-free workplace, health, and wellness
 
· Motivate their employees to support the policy
 
· Develop a process to continually review and update the drug-free workplace policy and the strategies and programs that support a drug-free workplace, health, and wellness
 
· Make available strategies and programs that support a drug-free workplace, health, and wellness
 
· Create a shared sense of responsibility for the success of a drug-free workplace policy and the strategies and programs that support a drug-free workplace, health, and wellness
Supervisors should consider workplace programs and activities that create a culture to include leadership style, management practices, social supports, employee autonomy and control, and work organization that encourages healthy work and life style behaviors.

Supervisors must understand and follow the DOT Reasonable Suspicion Policy:
 
· Understand Company Policy Ensure the company has a written drug and alcohol testing policy that includes guidance for cases of reasonable suspicion. This protects the employee and the employer. It also is imperative that all supervisors and managers receive reasonable suspicion training
 
· Collect Documentation If an employee is suspected of substance abuse on the job, document evidence to support the claim before approaching under reasonable suspicion. Documentation includes complaints or concerns from coworkers and patterns of behavior such as excessive tardiness or extreme changes in behavior or mood

· Observe Reported Behaviors At least two managers/supervisors should observe and confirm any reported behaviors and document them in detail. Reference any unusual behaviors or warning signs of substance abuse. If an employee is observed behaving in such a way that would jeopardize their safety or that of their coworkers, they should immediately be removed from their duties


Creating and maintaining clear professional boundaries is best practice for supervisors. If and when the time comes to confront an employee for suspected substance abuse, the supervisor will be less likely to enable the employee suspected of addiction by acting more as a “friend” than as a

cover to drug and alcohol training program
supervisor. As people we often feel we are helping someone when we offer “support” or advise and naively think we are resolving the issue. Keeping the relationship professional reduces complications and protects the well-being of everyone involved.

Get your supervisors trained in alcohol and drug awareness, especially those who are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation because they are in safety-sensitive positions.

by Toni Burns, contributing author

Saturday, June 27, 2020

How Reasonable Suspicion Training Helps Family Members Beyond the Workplace

Reasonable Suspicion Training - How It Helps Family Members and Dependents

Reasonable Suspicion Training: How It Helps Family Members and Dependents

Supervisors and managers receive reasonable suspicion training to help them identify the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. The training guides management through a reasonable suspicion documentation process.
More than 26 percent of employed adults are dealing with substance abuse. When the signs of substance abuse are missed, employees are more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents that cause injury to themselves, their coworkers, and customers.

Reasonable suspicion training is valuable and can mean the difference between an employee with a substance abuse issue getting the help they need or falling through the cracks.

Substance Abuse Outside the Workplace

Supervisors and managers are not the only ones who benefit from reasonable suspicion training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker spends 34.4 of the 168 hours in a week at work. That is less than five percent of their time at their place of employment.

While some individuals battling alcohol and substance abuse issues use drugs or alcohol at work, many of them are using outside of the workplace, making it more difficult to detect the problem. That is where friends and family members become vital resources in getting substance and alcohol abusers the help they need before it is too late. Since they spend a lot of time around the person and are familiar with their normal behavior and mood, they are more likely to pick up on the subtle signs that something is wrong.

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse


There are many physical and mental signs of alcohol and substance abuse. Some are more subtle than others. It is possible for individuals struggling with alcohol or drug abuse to exhibit more than one of these.
Common signs of alcohol abuse include:
  • Repeated blackouts and memory lapses
  • Denying drinking is occurring when confronted
  • Drinking alone to avoid detection by others
  • Drinking before noon
  • Neglecting responsibilities like childcare and work obligations
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Legal problems
  • Relationship problems
  • A high tolerance to alcohol before becoming inebriated
  • Behavioral changes such as angry outbursts, lewd behavior, and altercations
  • A decline in hygienic practices
Common signs of substance abuse can be similar to those of alcohol abuse, especially where behavior and mood changes are concerned. Other tell-tale signals to watch out for include:
  • Changes in appetite
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive excitability
  • Clammy skin
  • Diminished reaction time
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Tremors
  • Coordination issues
  • Intolerance to loud noises
  • Sexual dysfunction

Applying Reasonable Suspicion Practices

The same reasonable suspicion practices that are effective in the workplace can help friends and families identify loved ones with alcohol and substance abuse issues and guide them to the help needed to overcome the situation.

1. Stop enabling the person with the alcohol or drug abuse problem

Enabling the individual’s abuse of drugs or alcohol is never the right approach. This can include covering for them when they miss important social outings or family functions because they are hungover or suffering other ill effects of drug and alcohol misuse. Enabling is never about helping the person and has the unfortunate result of allowing the substance abuser to continue down a dangerous path. Stop making excuses for them to keep hiding the real problem.

2. Observe the behaviors and signs that something is wrong


Just like on the job, it is advisable to have more than one friend or family member observe the person with the suspected drug or alcohol abuse problem when they are engaging in uncharacteristic or unsafe behaviors. Ensuring more than one person has witnessed the behavior will make it easier to approach the person with the suspected problem of getting help. It is harder to deny the behavior when more than one person has experienced it.

3. Document incidents related to the suspected misuse of drugs or alcohol


Workplace supervisors are legally required to document all reports of inappropriate or unusual behavior and other complaints from coworkers. They also must record any incidents or behaviors they observe as out of the ordinary for one of their employees. Family and friends should follow the same procedures so they have evidence of their suspicions when they confront the individual with the issue.

4. Discuss your concerns


Once several witnesses have observed and documented the behaviors, it is time to approach the person suspected of abusing drugs or alcohol. It is important to have more than one person sharing their concerns; however, do not overwhelm the individual with too many people doing the confronting. If the person feels like they are being ganged up on, they are less likely to be receptive. Part of the process of discussing concerns is the inclusion of options to help the person overcome their addiction.

    5. Notify employers


    If the person being approached is unwilling to admit there is an issue or receptive to receiving help, and there is a concern they may be a danger to themselves or others, it is important to notify their place of employment of the situation. Doing so may help prevent any on-the-job injuries to your loved one or their coworkers and customers. Employers also may be able to use company policy to coerce the person into treatment.

    Where to Get Training


    Our organization provides training for the workplace and community. Enrolling in a training program can mean the difference between a friend and a loved one getting the help they need to overcome their addiction. Give us a call toll-free at 800-626-4237 to discuss Reasonable Suspicion.

    Monday, June 22, 2020

    Should Employers Fear Employees When Confronting Them Under Reasonable Suspicion?

    Should Employers Fear Employees When Confronting Them Under Reasonable Suspicion?
    A Guide to Properly Documenting Reasonable Suspicion

    Supervisors are responsible for ensuring employees perform the tasks assigned to them safely. This means confronting employees who are suspected of intoxication from or the aftereffects of drugs or alcohol while on the job. Reasonable suspicion training can help supervisors perform this task when necessary.

    More than 26 percent of employed adults are dealing with their substance abuse or addiction or that of a close family member. Of those, 42 percent reported the abuse or addiction issues affected their workplace productivity. Diminished job performance is just the tip of the iceberg. Other problems can include:

                 Chronic absenteeism
                 Frequent tardiness
                 High turnover
                 Increased worker’s compensation and medical bills
                 Elevated potential for workplace violence

    Signs of Substance Abuse

    Four of the most commonly abused substances are alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs. A reasonable suspicion training protocol should educate supervisors on how to spot employees who may be under the influence of one of these substances.
    Some individuals can become quite skilled at hiding their addiction from coworkers and employers, but there are subtle signs that can help identify a problem. A reasonable suspicion training program can help supervisors and other managers learn the signs. Behavior patterns for employees who are abusing drugs and alcohol will differ from their coworkers. They may avoid coworkers or actively blame them for issues they are having or mistakes they are making on the job. Other indicators can include:

                 Openly discussing financial issues
                 Neglecting personal hygiene
                 Changes in mood that include withdrawing from others, acting irrational or paranoid, and exhibiting a short temper
                 Changes in behavior, including acting inappropriately
                 Excessive need for “breaks” to the employee restroom, parking lot, or break area
                 Falling asleep on the job
                 Lacking in motivation
                 Lapsing memory or ability to concentrate

    Following Protocol Under Reasonable Suspicion Training

    Supervisors often are the first line of defense against substance abuse in the workplace. It can be difficult to approach an employee under reasonable suspicion. Addiction can cause people to behave in unpredictable ways. Some employees may make excuses or try to manipulate supervisors to get out of the situation. In some rare instances, employees may become violent when their addiction is brought to light. There are several steps employers can take to ensure their safety and well-being and that of other employees while confronting substance abuse on the job.

    1. Understand Company Policy

    Ensure the company has a written drug and alcohol testing policy that includes guidance for cases of reasonable suspicion. This protects the employee and the employer. It also is imperative that all supervisors and managers receive reasonable suspicion training.

    2. Collect Documentation

    If an employee is suspected of substance abuse on the job, document evidence to support the claim before approaching under reasonable suspicion. Documentation includes complaints or concerns from coworkers and patterns of behavior such as excessive tardiness or extreme changes in behavior or mood.

    3. Observe Reported Behaviors

    At least two managers/supervisors should observe and confirm any reported behaviors and document them in detail. Reference any unusual behaviors or warning signs of substance abuse. If an employee is observed behaving in such a way that would jeopardize their safety or that of their coworkers, they should immediately be removed from the work area.


    Few employees will demonstrate anger when confronted

    4. Discuss Concerns

    Once the employee in question is observed by at least two members of management and all behavior thoroughly documented should the employer request a meeting with the employee to discuss the findings. Be sure to follow company protocol during the meeting. It is advisable to have at least two members of management present in the meeting. While rare, it is important to be prepared to call 911 or company security personnel if an employee reacts in a threatening manner. Some triggers may cause an employee to become violent:

                 They feel they are in an unfair situation.
                 They feel circumstances are out of their control.
                 They feel personally attacked.

    All three of these common triggers can happen if the employee feels cornered during the discussion. It is important to present findings calmly and ensure the employee understands everything that is being discussed and required of them moving forward. Reasonable suspicion training should provide guidance on employee meetings to discuss suspected substance abuse issues. 

    5. Administer Testing

    Drug and alcohol testing is a legal issue. If company policy permits, send the employee for drug testing to confirm or rule out suspicions about substance abuse. Provide transportation for the employee to the testing facility and home following the testing. If the employee refuses to test, follow company protocol that outlines how such situations should be handled. That may include a suspension or immediate termination.

    6. Follow Up on Results

    If drug testing is completed and it produces a positive result, company protocol should be followed. This may involve sending the employee for substance abuse treatment or termination.


    Saturday, June 20, 2020

    How DOT Supervisors Become Drug and Alcohol Enablers Despite Their Training

    How DOT Supervisors Become Drug and Alcohol Enablers Despite Their Training

    We sometimes think of concepts like "enabling" as clear cut and unambiguous. If we help someone to purchase or access drugs and alcohol, we are enabling. If we help someone to make excuses for their substance abuse, we are enabling. If we steer someone towards risky behavior, we are enabling.
    If we are Department of Transportation supervisors implementing the Reasonable Suspicion training we have received in a professional capacity, then, surely, we are not enabling. Instead, we are actively making a positive difference.
    But is this necessarily the case? In many instances, it might be the opposite. Sure, supervisors carry out an important role, and the DOT Reasonable Suspicion policy can certainly be a force for good, but we must still tread carefully. A DOT supervisor can still be an enabler and can still promote the very risky behaviors they are intending to control.
    Let's explore how and why this happens.

    Enabling is a path of least resistance

    Most of us human beings, in our default setting, do not like confrontation. We may find ourselves in situations in which confrontation is necessary — perhaps when we do our duty as parents or when we take on any other role with an element of responsibility — but, for the most part, we would rather not explore that side of our personalities.
    This is why, whether we mean to or not, we often find ourselves on the path of least resistance — i.e., taking the route with the least friction, the least trouble, and the least chance of confrontation. When we start to factor in something as mind-altering and as potentially volatile as drug or alcohol abuse, that path of least resistance becomes all the more attractive.
    So, we may choose to passively enable our friends simply because it is the easiest option. We may find ourselves nodding in tacit agreement, shrugging, and explaining things away even though we know we should be stepping in and taking action. And why? Because we don't want our friends to get upset, and we don't want to destroy our relationship.
    We may even start to doubt ourselves. Maybe that one drink is okay, maybe she can handle it. Maybe that one line at that one party is okay and won't send him into a spiral. Once this doubt creeps in, it can become difficult to know what to do. This is basic human psychology, but it's very powerful.

    Professional relationships are often more than that

    Of course, we have lapsed into discussing relationships between personal friends. A DOT supervisor is a professional, and as such, they have a professional relationship with the people they are supervising. There is a clear distinction.
    Except, is this distinction really so clear?
    Americans work, on average, 34.4 hours a week , with many of us working far more. Work is such a crucial part of all our lives that, by extension, the people we work with also become critical. Employers understand the value of an engaged and connected workforce, and they encourage personal relationships as a way of nurturing productivity .
    With this in mind, it's easy to see why the boundaries can become blurred. A DOT supervisor may not even notice the friendship developing until it begins to hinder the duties of their role.

    Beginning a cycle of enabling

    This is how the cycle of enabling begins. It may become clear that a colleague has a problem, but those who could make a difference grow too close to that colleague to effectively make a difference. Excuses, doubts, and false rationalization all begin to creep in, and the colleague's addiction and pattern of risky behaviors go unchecked.
    This cycle is reinforced by another aspect: false positivity. We may feel that extreme actions, such as disciplinary procedures, are too "harsh", even though they will in fact help the colleague who is struggling, especially in the long term. We may instead fall into a process of "helping" — i.e., offering our support and guidance to our colleague and friend, all the while propping up their addiction without providing any meaningful intervention.
    In effect, we become complicit in their actions and may find ourselves directly or indirectly responsible for any of the negative results that follow. Handouts and tip sheets provided to DOT supervisors being educated in reasonable suspicion can help get this complicated points across.
    Acting as a DOT supervisor involves a difficult negotiation. It involves looking at the bigger picture, stepping outside of our personal and professional relationships, and deciding on a course of action that protects the health, safety, and well-being of all. In many cases, this will include going against our inherent human nature, seeking confrontations with positive outcomes, and pursuing a path of change and growth, no matter how difficult that path may be.


    Preview the full DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Web Course or other formats here.
    education free preview of reasonable suspicion training

    Wednesday, June 17, 2020

    10 Risks to Your Business that Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors Will Help Reduce

    10 Risks to Your Business You Can Reduce with Our Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors

    Supervisors that recognize the symptoms of alcohol abuse and controlled substance abuse will be able to take action, fast, if they suspect an employee has a problem. Swift action is crucial to prevent the employee or their coworkers from coming to any harm, and to prevent any accidents or damage to property.
    Supervisors that do not receive adequate reasonable suspicion training may face the following risks.

    1. Supervisors Engage in Enabling Behavior

    Enabling means supporting the addict, allowing their addiction, or protecting them from the consequences of their actions. Reasonable suspicion training helps supervisors to see that they are actually standing in the way of the addict from receiving the help they need.

    2. Employee Fails to Address Problems at Home

    A combination of factors influences the risk for addiction, and one of these factors is the environment. In other words, if a person drinks or takes drugs to cover up a problem outside of work, they will not be addressing that problem or taking steps to resolve it.

    3. Employee Drinks or Takes Drugs on Work Premises

    An addict will need to satisfy their craving wherever they are. That could mean drinking or taking drugs on their work break, or on work property, and keeping substances at work.

    4. The Reputation of the Business Is Tarnished

    The smell of marijuana and alcohol can be detected by others, leading to a bad reputation for the company. An employee who is drinking or using controlled substances could also end up in trouble with the law if they are arrested for being drunk in public or for drunk driving.

    5. The Situation Gets Worse for the Employee

    If the problem goes unchecked, things will get worse. Personal appearance and hygiene could deteriorate, and they become at risk of digestive, heart, and liver problems. They could also get involved with money problems as they struggle to feed their addiction.

    6. Poor Quality of Work

    The last thing your business needs is to have a member of staff driving carelessly, causing problems on the road, missing deliveries and deadlines, making mistakes, or generally providing inadequate levels of work.

    7. More Accidents and Injuries at Work

    Addicts are more likely to experience a lapse in concentration during the working day. They may also be unable to focus or pay attention, or even fall asleep. Stumbling and trembling hands are also associated with alcohol and drug addiction.

    8. Property Is Lost, Stolen, or Damaged

    Any financial loss will have an impact on a business. Sign up for reasonable suspicion training before any damage is done.

    9. Increased Levels of Absence

    Reasonable Suspicion Training will help supervisors to address an employee’s behavior before their addiction gets out of hand. If addiction is not treated, it could lead to time off work, or them having to leave their job altogether.

    10. Coworkers Are at Risk

    An employee using drugs or alcohol might be agitated, anxious, or hyperactive. They could overreact in a situation, use rude or disrespectful language, display paranoid behavior, or fail to recognize other people’s feelings or contributions.

    Now Is the Time for Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors

    The US Department of Transportation requires that supervisors of drivers of commercial motor vehicles undertake training to recognize the signs of potential alcohol or substance abuse. The regulations apply to all supervisors of drivers of commercial motor vehicles who operate vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license.
    The training, which is 120 minutes in total, makes supervisors aware of what to look for, when their suspicions about alcohol or drug use should be aroused, and when to refer an employee for testing.
    Suitable for DOT and non-DOT drug alcohol addiction, our training is used by businesses of all sizes, nationwide.
    Now is the time for supervisor training.
    Click here to download our DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training course for supervisors.

    Monday, March 30, 2020

    What Reasonable Suspicion Training Should Include to Educate Supervisors

    Reasonable suspicion training must include one hour of alcohol and one hour of other drug information. The goal is to help supervisors become aware of key substances of abuse and help them respond properly.

    Note that one hour covers alcohol and one hour covers all of the other drugs of abuse the DOT wants mentioned. What does this tell you?

    It obviously says that alcohol is the bigger problem in the workplace. And indeed it is.

    One out of 11 drinkers is an alcoholic. (Personally, from my 40 years of observations in treatment and education, I think it is closer to 1 in 9.) The disease can continue for decades before it is noticed as productivity declines or increased absenteeism, among many other behavioral, conduct, and attitude possibilities.

    Drugs to include in your reasonable suspicion training are alcohol, stimulants, depressants, narcotics, hallucinogens & PCP, and Marijuana.

    Although the following drugs are not required education, I like delivering content to supervisors that will help them deal with problems at home with teenagers or problems at home with an alcoholic spouse or partner. And, the education I deliver in reasonable suspicion training is designed purposely to help supervisors self-diagnose their own alcoholism. Think about it. When you have a captured audience with people that could have a life threatening illness and not know it, what would you recommend? Enough said!

    As you can see the alcohol education in products 154, 155 and 107 is that good. It helps learners self-diagnose.

    There are no other drugs of abuse that supervisors must be educated in as required by the U.S. DOT in reasonable suspicion training, but we will discuss some drugs of abuse that you may want to mention because they have dramatic effects on the workplace, even though required education about their signs and symptoms is not mandated.

    Ever hear of Salvia? No? We’ll talk about it. Spice and K2 also, which are big problems in many populations groups.

    The U.S. DOT does require that supervisors receive certain parameters of information associated with the drugs of abuse outlined in the code of federal regulations. When discussing drugs of abuse, always include signs and symptoms of the drug being used, effects on the employee behavior, and dangers of use in the workplace.

    Personally I like to also make a few comments about withdrawal – when an employee may be completely drug free, not under the influence, but dangerously incapacitated by symptoms withdrawal, then it is worth talking about.

    The DOT does not require “behavioral signs and symptoms of withdrawal” but as you might guess, it is a good thing for supervisors to understand.

    A new requirement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is for all federal employees to have education and awareness regarding several types of Opioids. These include:  Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone. 

    These drugs are predominantly used for pain control, and there is not a lot that you need to say about them as required by the DOT. Awareness is the key. Include photos of these drugs in your presentation and simply mention their addictive nature and general use in pain managements.  You can find a PowerPoint Slide Video here and you are welcome to pause and download or save this ppt here.  

    Beyond drugs of abuse it is important to have test questions for supervisors regarding drug and alcohol awareness. Also have handouts. Do not consume the time your supervisors are in training with 120 minutes of alcohol and drug awareness audio/visual content. Instead, break this time up. Make eight or nine handouts available in the course so they can read and review them in the future.

    Regarding test questions, make them educational. Your test questions do not need to relate directly to the material in the presentation. I make my test questions true/false or multiple choice, and then offer a paragraph of educational content to explain to the learner. The questions for the most part do not related to the content. No need. Just help supervisors delve deeper into the content.

    Introducing DOT Supervisors to the Reasonable Suspicion Training Program for Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace


    Most DOT drug and alcohol awareness training programs begin with a quick dive into the drugs of abuse, their signs and symptoms, and information required by the DOT compliance mandate, but I suggest you create an introduction for your supervisors before diving in to the required content. There are a few good reasons why. Train DOT supervisors here.

    crack pipe disguised as blue Hi-Liter marking pen
    Believe It! You won't easily find drug addicts!
    Beyond introducing the time frame and other administrative or logistics information of your course, a key point must be to explain to supervisors that the goal of training is not to educate them about diagnosis of drug and alcohol abuse or addictive disease.

    In fact, telling DOT supervisors directly that should not use the information they are about to hear for that purpose helps ensure that big problems down the road do not occur.


    This message to supervisors no only reduces liability and a completely inappropriate role for any supervisor, but it also helps prevent employee manipulation and total frustration by the supervisor who will never---ever---win the diagnosis game. Most of us run our lives as “junior psychiatrists”

    Employees with drug and alcohol use problems or drug addicts, which amount principally to the same thing, are experts at having discussions about their use, abuse, level of consumption, why they are not addicts, who is an addict, what is an addict, and none of these things include them.

    No one wins arguments with addicts to the extent that they are convinced to enter treatment. A lot more is needed than intellectual persuasion. Unfortunately, this argument is usually won with leverage of fear associated with the certainty of being fired if the employee does not accept treatment.

    Many people believe, and of course this includes supervisors, that no employee entering treatment will ever get well unless they really want to enter treatment and really want to quit. This is a myth. The truth is that no addict “accepts help” until after treatment begins because education is 95% of any addiction treatment program – designed to motivate the patient to self-diagnose where before treatment, just the opposite applies. The patient before treatment works overtime to compare out of the illness and convince him- or herself that the disease does not affect themselves.

    Without the myths and misconceptions dispelled, family, friends, coworkers, and supervisors will take the leap to motivate them into saying “yes, I need help and want to quit.” This approach is for the most part, complete folly. True, employees do experience these completely self-generated desires to enter treatment, but it is usually only associated with crisis or a close call.

    When training supervisors, provide them with information necessary to increase awareness about troubled employee behaviors. We are not talking about substance abuse signs and symptoms. We are talking here about behaviors that are purely associated with troubled employees like absenteeism, disappearing on the job, conflicts, late to work, complaints of feeling ill, leaving early from work, etc. Here’s why: Few drug addicted or alcoholic employees will ever be spotted directly by intoxication. This was well understood in the 1970’s when the Occupational Alcoholism movement took hold. More addicts were found via job performance than “drunk on the job.” In fact, many books were written about this phenomenon. And, in fact an entire association was formed around this reality – the Labor Management Journal on Alcoholism, the Association of Labor, Management, and Administrators on Alcoholism, and others. 

    Since supervisors monitor performance, they can ideally be part of an early warning system for spotting performance problems that could be due alcohol or drug use.

    Include the following information within your reasonable suspicion training program: Information about the disease concept of alcoholism and drug addiction; tolerance and cross tolerance; understanding loss of control, denial, avoiding armchair diagnosing, stopping enabling; principles of constructive confrontation.


    DOT Training Essentials Beyond Drug Abuse What Other DOT Training Ideas to Consider

    Click link in right hand side for Reasonable Suspicion Training
    Most supervisors have misinformation about alcoholism and drug addiction.  This misinformation gets in the way of effectively responding to troubled employees, who can easily explain away and postpone confrontation as a result of their increasingly, well-practiced defensive mechanisms. Without training and a set of guiding principles for managing troubled employees with alcohol and drug problems that include non-substance use performance issues, supervisors are unwittingly outmatched.

    Purchase PowerPoint, DVD, Video, or Web course for Reasonable Suspicion Training for the DOT.