Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Educate Employees About Substance Abuse After Conducting Reasonable Suspicion Training with Supervisors

If supervisors are trained to understand drug and alcohol use in the workplace and its symptoms, and then also how to take steps in referring employees for testing, does it make sense to educate employees themselves about substance abuse with the goal of having them not use psychoactive substances in the workplace, and maybe think hard about getting counseling or treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.

Of course, the answer is yes.

Yes, because you won't identify every employee who poses a risk to the organization as a drug addict or alcoholic. Reasonable suspicion training for supervisors and reducing risk requires a comprehensive approach. In literally one hour, any business can educate employees, help addicts self-diagnose, and at a minimum cause alcoholics and addicts to cut back on their use of substances if nothing else for a short period.


Reasonable suspicion training involving lots of substance abuse awareness for supervisors is only part of the picture when it comes to reducing risk of accidents and other calamities from drug and alcohol abuse. An extremely important part of the risk reduction equation is educating employees. But what must be the goals of such education?

There are three crucial goals in alcohol and drug awareness for non-supervisory employees  to help them reduce the likelihood of drug and alcohol use at work.

Goal #1: Self-diagnosis and motivational education to stop use, seek treatment, and stop enabling others who use substances on and off the job.

Goal #2: Dispel myths and misconceptions about substance abuse in general, and alcoholism in particular.

Goal #3:  Reduce enabling by coworkers and raise the awareness  of the dangers of substance abuse so peer-relationships become powerful tools in confronting addicts and encouraging affected employees to get help. 

Substance abuse does not happen in a vacuum. Just as societal problems affect workplace life, your employees’ personal travails can influence their attitude and job performance.

Educate employees about the scope and seriousness of substance abuse. In your role as supervisor, you can use the “bully pulpit” to rally your workers to fight such abuse. Use staff meetings, company retreats and other opportunities to communicate facts about drug or alcohol use—and your passionate desire to support employees in their efforts to perform their jobs safely and free of impairment.

Urging everyone to read your employer’s policy will not suffice. Instead, explain why it exists, what it means and how you will take steps to enforce it. 

Help employees realize that the policy isn’t merely designed to govern drug or alcohol problems that may arise. Emphasize that the policy doubles as a proactive tool to educate the workforce on critical issues that relate to everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

The more that employees acknowledge the personal and professional costs of substance abuse—and the need for supervisory vigilance in exercising reasonable suspicion—the more they can play a constructive role in honoring the policy and encouraging their peers to make smart choices.

Ideally, you should implement a drug and alcohol program that delivers ongoing information to your workers. This program can consist of regular workshops and trainings, discussion groups, breakout sessions in companywide meetings and “lunch and learn” lectures from guest speakers with expertise in workplace safety and substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Through such a comprehensive program, employees can better understand the reasoning behind your organization’s commitment to a drug-free workplace, its policy relating to substance abuse and the larger lifestyle issues that come into play when individuals face such problems.

You can also serve as a clearinghouse of information to connect employees to resources they can use to resist or overcome substance abuse. As long as people know where to turn for help, they are less apt to enter a self-destructive downhill spiral.

Many employers promote their efforts to educate employees about drug and alcohol abuse by establishing a well-defined substance abuse awareness program. Through memos, internal newsletters, intranet postings, paycheck stuffers, posters and other communication vehicles, the organization can reinforce key messages about making healthy choices and recognizing and addressing signs of impairment from substance abuse.

Your industry trade group or professional association may provide free or low-cost resources to help you educate your workers about avoiding substance abuse. Membership organizations that represent construction firms, meatpacking operations and mining companies often offer training programs or other useful resources.

Distribute videos and home mailings that encourage families to discuss the dangers of substance abuse and the signs and symptoms of such problems. Brochures and worksheets can advise families what to do (and what not to do) to help a loved one combat and treat drug or alcohol abuse. Provide lists with contact information for community resources.

WARNING: Raise employees’ awareness of substance abuse without threatening them or demanding that they comply with top-down edicts. Do not order employees around by issuing “my way or the highway” mandates or waving your finger at them and saying, “One violation and you’re fired.” Instead, frame the topic as a collective challenge “that we all face that we can and will solve together.”

TIP: Check out for a list of handouts, posters and other resources that you can distribute to employees.

IT’S TRUE: Industries with the highest incidence of workplace injuries also have the highest rates of drug use. So employee education is even more important if you supervise people who perform jobs at high risk of occupational hazards. [SOURCE:] 

TRUE OR FALSE: Small businesses are less likely than large corporations to offer full-fledged programs to fight substance abuse, even though they are more vulnerable to employee drug and alcohol use.

[ANSWER: TRUE. Small businesses are more likely to suffer negative consequences from employee substance abuse than larger employers, according to OSHA. See for more information.]

Friday, May 10, 2019

Click the link on this page to preview the DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Program or phone 1-800-626-4327 for more information and we will email you the entire product in a download.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Reasonable Suspicion Training: Excuses Employees Will Use to Manipulate You to Back Off!

There are many excuses DOT Supervisors will hear from employees when they approach an them for reasonable suspicion concerning use of drugs or alcohol on the job. 

What constitutes reasonable suspicion in your mind will not make an impact on your employee. His or her job is to manipulate the crap out of you to avoid a test. How prepared will you be when you hear one of the classic ten excuses? And will you recognize that you are being manipulated when it happens?

PowerPoints for reasonable suspicion training should make sure these excuses are covered, and if you do not purchase our training program, try purchasing just this small section at You will find it by searching the product with "ten excuses."

DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training purchased on the Internet will always fail to cover the ten excuses, but we cover these issues in our DOT Training. So, please add them or phone use to send more information at 1-800-626-4327.

Let's face it. If you are a wiz and alcohol and drug education but your employees can manipulate you with guilt, fear, worry, anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, or loss of loyalty among other objectives, you may back off.

When you back off, you allow risk to increase that a tragedy will someday occur. You do not want to know what it is going to be.

Reasonable suspicion training is about education and awareness. The U.S. DOT does not require you to have significant information associated with managing relationships on the job in general. It can't. But you should still get the information. Identifying and avoiding manipulation by excuses.

We realize this fact. So, you will both enjoy and find fascinating the content in this section of the course. The video below is a discussion in general, but you can visit this link to see all of these excuses unabridged. Call us soon to get impactful training for reasonable suspicion that supports DOT mandatory guidelines you must comply with.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

#4 of 43 Reasonable Suspicion Signs and Symptoms: The Employee Shows Is Tremulous and Shaking

The alcoholic employee who is in withdrawal, but still at work with a positive blood alcohol level or one that is dropping fast or at zero, may be tremulous. Alcoholics are addicted to ethanol.

Alcoholism is a disease..a physical illness. This disease is hereditary, and addiction to alcohol is not planned, forced, or accidental from careless drinking. It is biogenic because of susceptibility to sedative drug addiction. 

Over time, cells within the body of the alcoholic become accustomed to the efficient at using ETOH as a preferred fuel source. Alcohol is pure calories and water soluble, but with ZERO nutrients....This is a big problem. The cells of the body actually become toxic and start to wall off nutrients as the permit alcohol to pass their membrane to nourish them with energy. Unfortunately, the alcoholic become sick.

These employees may have craving that is so severe that the tremulousness become violent shaking. Employees who enter DTs (delirium tremens)  typically have been shaking violently before they enter this delusional state of mind.

As blood alcohol level drops, an increase in anxiety, nervousness, agitation, and augmented emotions become noticeable. These employees may fly off the handle easily, have anger management issues, or behave explosively.

Tremulousness in the fingers is not necessarily a symptom of alcohol intoxication or withdrawal of course, but let's discuss it. There are differences that distinguish alcohol withdrawal from other neurological conditions. The most important difference is usually age. Not too many 45 year old men have Parkinson's Disease. Also, employees with Parkinson's are typically not keeping it a secret.

Let's also discuss how you should respond as a supervisor and document what you see, despite the fact that shaking could be caused by anything from food poisoning from egg foo yung (happened to me) to Parkinson's Disease.

If you are a DOT Supervisor overseeing an alcoholic mechanic or are an office manager supervising a typist, tremulousness from withdrawal may interfere with fine motor skills and the ability to perform one's work. This is an embarrassing and upsetting condition. The alcoholic is aware that you notice, but denial is a useful defense mechanism at times like these.

Tremulousness is cured by raising the BAC with a drink. Until this point in time, you will the agitation get worse. Employees may leave the job site to consume alcohol and skip out work early.

When you document tremulousness, the language in your documentation should look something like this, "The employee appeared unable to keep her fingers from shaking on the keyboard. This interfered with productivity by making her typing slower and difficult.

Notice the quantifiable documentation above. Many DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Courses do not discuss how to create documentation effectively although they may discuss drug and alcohol awareness education. Sorry, but education alone won't cut it.

If you see tremulousness, recognize it as a potential sign that the employees drunk. You can see a description of tolerance in part of our video that I posted on YouTube that will you will also see in the DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Program

Non-DOT one-hour drug and alcohol training for supervisors can be seen in full here.

Monday, December 17, 2018

#3 of 43: DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training - Alcohol on the Breath

Reasonable suspicion training includes the examination of signs and symptoms that are
obviously well known and no-brainers. One of them is alcohol on the breath.

Don't be fooled, however. Alcohol on the breath can be on of the more difficult signs and symptoms to confront. It sounds cut and dry and simple enough, but this symptom has some tricky angles to it.

Did you know that in most workplaces in the the UK, alcohol on the breath cannot be used as a justification for a alcohol testing? Hint: The rate of alcoholism among white males in the UK is enormous compared to their counterparts in the USA.

Can you see why reasonable suspicion testing laws in the United Kingdom might prohibit requiring a urine screen solely become of alcohol on the breath? (Sorry, not sure about airline pilots and train engineers in the UK--but I hope they made an exception to this law  for some occupations. Now let's dive into alcohol on the breath a little bit more.

Companies like to brag about their "zero-tolerance" policies concerning using drugs and alcohol on the job. But regarding alcohol, what does "use of alcohol" on the job mean -- drinking it openly or having it in your  body spiking your BAC? It is important to get clarity on this subject because I have seen enormous confusion that results from reasonable suspicion training when people began asking questions like this in the Q and A session at the end of a DOT PowerPoint Training presentation.

In one training session I did, a discussion arose about whether it was against county government policy to use alcohol at lunch? The policy had no reference to this, but they can't control private alcohol consumption at lunch off the job site. But here's the problem. People come back from lunch after drinking. Some show symptoms -- those with low tolerance and some show none -- those with high tolerance. The high tolerance individuals are more likely drunk.

But then what does drunk mean? Alcohol on the breath? Staggering? Slurring one's words? The drug and alcohol policy may be a zero tolerance policy, but it does not add up.

Many alcoholics in the middle and later stages can be drunk at work and appear normal. They may have a breath smell of alcohol, however. How does the policy of the company deal with this issue? This takes some real thought.

The county government policy stated that employees cannot consume alcohol at work, but its policy fell apart when employees when to lunch and drank. Employees who returned to work with alcohol on their breath were suddenly in violation of the policy, but they had not drank alcohol at work.

One hospital I worked for wrote in their drug and alcohol policy that employees could not consume alcohol during the workday at all nor at any time. Guess who decided to direct the hospital to not include them in the policy -- all the doctors. They wanted to drink during the work day. And the hospital signed off on it.

We have an important section in's Reasonable Suspicion Training program for DOT. It includes a thorough discussion about alcohol, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism.
You can preview the full program here.

So, what about employees who come to work at 11 p.m. to work until 7 or 8 a.m. Does alcohol on the breath mean the same thing for these workers as those who arrive at 7 a.m. to work until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.? Are you beginning to see how complicated this can get?

Obviously there is plenty to discuss with regard to this sign or symptom. And I will continue this discussion in a second part momentarily.

The Federal Transportation Administration says that signs and symptoms must be articulable and contemporaneous -- use this language in your policy. However, be sure educate thoroughly on signs and symptoms.

But It's Medicine

 You're going to hear this excuse someday: "But it's medicine." Easy answer: "And?"

If it smells like alcohol, even it is medicine, the reasonable suspicion test is warranted. This is articulatable and contemporaneous enough to document. What the employee says you are actually smelling is not part of your decision-making process regarding a decision to test.

Purchase DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training for one person or your entire company at this link - prices vary based on format.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

#2 of 43 Signs and Symptoms for Reasonable Suspicion Training: Difficulty Maintaining Balance

Employees who are "drunk" may appear to have difficulty balancing. This symptom brings to mind the classic stumbling over a chair or when the drunk person stands up, they begin to keel over and everyone reaches to prevent their falling. Snatching the car keys comes next, hopefully. 

Don't be fooled however. Employees who are alcoholic at an office party on New Year's Eve usually will not have any trouble balancing even if they have been drinking all night. In fact, they may be able to drink more than most other employees at the party. Those employees who are losing their balance at a party following heavy drinking are mostly likely not alcoholic, but of course you can't make this diagnosis. The lack of imbalance after heavy drinking is of course explained by drug tolerance. 

The employee's ability to drink and not signs or symptoms can be an adaptive stage of the illness or proof that the body has grown accustomed to the presence of alcohol in the nervous system which no longer cause nerves cells to be anesthetized. 

This is a dangerous sign or symptom of reasonable suspicion, but its absence requires the supervisor to be on guard. You simply are not going to see all the classic signs and symptoms of intoxication that your read or near about. 

Take a look at this chart, and click on it to enlarge it for the following discussion.

Look how alcoholic employees perform. Do you see the pattern that is being described? Employees with severe alcoholism may also be your most valuable workers. May CEOs of companies are alcoholics just like there a many janitors who are also alcoholic. Tolerance is key to explaining why some employee do not lose their balance after drinking heavily.

Some employees you see at social functions my feel less inhibited about drinking heavily at say a holiday party, and over-drinking at such events will cause social drinkers, alcoholics, and alcohol abusers to over-drink to the point of intoxication. This is also a good reason to limit drinking at holiday parties or forego alcohol altogether because of the liability involved in alcohol-related incidents.

Since we are talking about DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training, be sure to write notes about what you see when an employee is losing their balance after drinking.  Record what, when, and the circumstances involved.