Monday, December 18, 2017

Employees Blame Drinking on Other Problems, and They Aren't Lying--But They Are Wrong

It is natural and it is normal, and it not the alcoholic trying to fool the company, his family, or the entire DOT supervisor training class when they say “other problems cause me to drink.”
slide for dot supervisors training in reasonable suspicion explaining drug tolerance

Employees with substance abuse problems are earnestly working to figure out why their drinking is problematic. Frankly, this is a good reason to do employee awareness training for alcohol and other drugs of abuse--for the self-diagnosis effect this sort of training has on workers.

As a DOT supervisor training class attendee, your best approach to understand employee substance is to realize that these individuals have years—no decades!—typically, of successful, non-problematic drug and alcohol use before these substances turn on them. The reasonable suspicion training class you are attending must briefly mention these falsehoods up front with the first few slides.

When drug and alcohol abuse education fails to discuss the phenomenon mentioned above, confusion remains for the DOT Supervisor Training participants. And alcoholic and drug addicted employees will look for any viable explanation to explain away their problems with substances. This is further fueled by the shear need to do so because living without these substances that provide instant relief, first as euphoria agents, and then as symptoms relievers is not visually possible. And it is terrifying to consider it.

It is difficult to believe that some alcoholic employees blame their use of alcohol on their personal problems. We know a lot more about alcoholism in the 21st century, and this excuse simply does not fly any longer among health and wellness professionals, no matter how ignorant they are about alcoholism.

Do these alcoholics actually believe what they are actually saying? If you are a professional counseling in the field or alcoholism or a member of some helping profession, you would find this difficult to believe, but there is good reason to accept that some alcoholics are in fact this ignorant about their disease. Enabling alcoholics, typically the work of coworkers and family members also explains these attitudes.

The truth is that some employees do believe their drug or alcohol abuse is caused by their problems. And this very real possibility is based on several factors

(Of course the truth is that these drinkers who complain about personal problems causing their alcoholism have linked relief drinking and managing stress or actual withdrawal symptoms being treated by the consumption of alcohol which makes them temporarily go away.)

The movies, false models of alcoholism, psychiatrists who don’t know any better, or friends and relatives all may explain alcohol abuse by the alcoholic as a symptom of his attempts to relieve himself of his concerns over his problems.

Mental health professionals in private practice have made millions of dollars with this psychiatric model that is completely debunked by science. So, in all the drug and alcohol courses that you might consider for use in your organization, be sure to look for this message that addictions are chronic diseases of biogenic origin.

The alcoholic that has family members and friends who buy into this model of problem drinking is not going to attempt to dissuade this misguided individuals and have them listening to a lecture about alcoholism as an acute chronic illness because they have not been educated enough to be convincing.

Go here to learn more about's non-DOT supervisor training for substance abuse or the DOT version of the reasonable suspicion training course that meets the US Department of Transportation's mandate of 60 min Alcohol, 60 Minutes Drug abuse education.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Alcohol on the Breath: What It Means

Yesterday, Zack from the welding shop came to work looking fine. It was a normal day of
list of myths supervisors maintain about alcohol on the breath
working on the new high rise building going up, and driving the 10 ton equipment truck to the job site.  Zack smelled like whiskey was emanating from his breath. But he appeared perfectly fine. Is this a situation that calls for a reasonable suspicion urine test? He looks great.

Zack's manager had just participated in DOT Supervisor Training.

Some alcoholics may come to work smelling of alcohol and if you ask if they were drinking in the parking lot or otherwise before coming to work, they will jump out of their chair and shout NO! And they are not lying. So what  explains alcohol on the breath?

Middle stage alcoholics with alcohol on the breath are either drinking at work, drinking just before coming to work, or still metabolizing alcohol from a drinking episode the night before.

Alcoholics with liver dysfunction may also drink larger quantities of alcohol, but their liver works inefficiently and processes alcohol much more slowly. You therefore smell the booze emanating from their pours.

Should alcohol on the breath signal the need for a reasonable suspicion test? Yes. But, here’s a point of interest. Alcohol on the breath in the United Kingdom cannot be a stand-alone reason for requiring a blood test. Do you know why? The answer is simple. 

The UK policy is build around three realities to address alcohol use in the UK. 1) 25% of the male workforce is alcoholic compared to the USA which is about 7%.; 2) Alcoholics typically have high tolerance, and many who are drunk are functioning to the degree that they may appear sober. 3) To keep the healthcare system from breaking down.

The truth is that acute chronic alcoholism is rampant in many countries so definitions are changed to make the acuity of the problem less pronounced.

Non-DOT Training for reasonable suspicion in other job categories must still be aware of the meaning of alcohol on the breath.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tell DOT Supervisors Why They Are Getting Trained

Most DOT supervisors come to a drug and alcohol awareness course anticipating learning about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse so they can spot employees who may be under the influence. That's what the DOT wants. No surprise there, but when training starts, hold the brakes! Start here: It’s important for DOT supervisors to get the rest of the information they need about why they are getting trained. It is not just about signs and symptoms.

There are essentially six different important reasons for DOT drug and alcohol training besides
Cover of first slide for drug and alcohol awareness training of supervisors for DOT or Non-DOT
learning the signs and symptoms, psychomotor effects, and impact on productivity that drug and alcohol abuse causes.

Spend time sharing what these are, and only a few minutes, DOT supervisors will walk away with more motivation to pay attention to what is in front of them from day to day. This will make it less likely to slip into apathy, which is a habit of thought more desirable that vigilance.

Safety. Safety is the most important reason for conducting DOT Training. Without safety and security, we have nothing, so prevention of death or injury is paramount although there are other reasons. When discussing safety, offer employees some statistics or costs related to substance abuse. DOT supervisors know what safety is all about, but reducing the risk of injury to others on the job or in the field is especially critical.

Salvage Workers. Getting nabbed by way of a positive drug screen based on reasonable suspicion gives an addicted worker the opportunity to get addiction treatment. Productivity losses are prevented and an untold cost to society is avoided. If a worker is not an addict, then mandatory drug and alcohol education is provided that will help the worker no make a decision to use substances again. Of course, some drug and alcohol policies are curtail a decision to use substances at work. (Addicts are beyond the ability to consistently predict when and where they will drink, and therefore getting caught drinking at work is a different dynamic—part of the illness. This is not an excuse, but in fact, just the opposite where a drug and alcoholic use policy forces the addict into treatment.

Improved Productivity. Employees with drug and alcohol addictions experienced tremendous productivity drop-offs, but there is much more to this story than DOT supervisors realize. The reality is that employees with drug and alcohol addictions appear to perform better…yes, I said better…than the average employee in the early stages of the disease, during what is know has the adaptive stage. You can see this phenomenon illustrated by one of handouts supplied to you in the DOT Training Course or the Non-DOT Training course. We insert this valuable handout in both.

Why is it that employees are graded by supervisors as though they are performing better and above the occupational norm in the early stages of their illness? It’s because alcohol and drug abuse in the early stages operates as a stress management mechanism and a “social lubricant”, and these two things contribute to employees being perceived—not perform—but perceived as above average in capability and desirability among their immediate supervisors grading there performance. They “hail fellow well met” individuals in many instances, confident in their abilities, energized, and leadership-like in their pursuit of occupational success.

Of course, not all alcoholics behave as described above, but enough do that the phenomenon of “above average performance” is perceived by supervisor personnel.

Second slide of symptoms that are often related to addiction
In the early middle states, employees under the supervision of a DOT supervisor begin to experience problems. These initially result from overdrinking and this behaviors affect on attendance. Later, the middle and later stages, many more productivity problems ensure. For example accidents and injuries are more frequent among addicts and alcoholics.

It the later stages, alcoholics may be completely dysfunctional, but many organizations retain them because of their past history of occupational success discussed above. Obviously, this is a very insidious process.

Reduced Financial Costs. Identifying and referring employees to testing and ultimately addiction treatment has the impact of reducing costs on the organization in terms of lost productivity and many associated costs.
Billions of dollars are lost each year to direct and indirect costs of alcoholism and drug addictions, and the amount of money saved is sometimes impossible to measure because these financial resources are called “dollars recovered from loss” – what is the amount of money saved from a fork lift not killing a fellow worker, who otherwise may have been killed accidentally by a drunk equipment operator? It’s not measureable, but we know the risk is there.

The dissolution of this risk is the associated cost benefit. This can be measured in comparative studies between companies, and that is indeed where the truth lies.

Health of the Worker. Improving health of workers is a no brainer. Obviously when intervention occurs and workers enter treatment, their health improves rather than continuing the deterioration caused by the abuse of substances and the lifestyles that often accompany these conditions. Simply put, if you deal cocaine, your risk of death by some incident or another is greater than the employee at home in the evening watching sitcoms.
In recovery, it has been observed by occupational alcoholism experts and employee assistance professionals, that employees bounce back and become better than well. 

An employee who has always performed on par, once in treatment, typically performs above par. This is because of the “recovery effect” on all parts of an employee’s life, especially improvements in mental health. DOT Supervisor Training may not typically discuss this issue, but any experience supervisor has witnessed it over the span of their career.

Positive Impact DOT Supervisor Families. Alcoholism is a biogenic, hereditary illness. It’s a fact. Alcoholism is not a psychological problem, willpower issue, or character flaw. Alcoholics start drinking for the same reason as most people do. They then acquire tolerance to the drug, enter the adaptive stage of the illness, and unwittingly become affected by a chronic pattern of worsening symptoms.

Some alcoholics drink alcoholically from the first drink, and for others it takes years to reach the middle stages of the illness. And, still with others, you could not make some people an alcoholic even if forced them to drink everyday with gun pointed to their head. In other words, some are immune and resistant to the illness.

Employees have family members who could have alcoholism. (Which makes it a good idea to train and education employees with drug awareness education.) Education of supervisors means eventually that that these family members are positively affected by the education offer in DOT Supervisor Training

When DOT supervisor training results in the empowerment of managers to confront employees, family systems are positively affected indirectly. And what about your own drinking pattern? And what about the supervisor’s own family members? Yes, information has a relay affect, and some supervisors achieving clarity on what addiction is all about, may act in more assertive and effective ways to intervene with teenagers, a spouse, or a parent affected by acute chronic alcoholism or some other addiction.

You can learn more about DOT Training of Supervisors or Non-DOT training for alcohol and drug abuse for supervisors, and any of the multiple formats for delivering this education at these links.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Does Your Reasonable Suspicion Alcohol and Drug Policy Jive With Reality?

Is trouble brewing for your company’s drug-free workplace policy and its prohibitions because they do not match reality? DOT Supervisor Training may be more difficult if your policy is not examined and made clear with respect to your work culture and what you are trying to accomplish.

In other words, do you risk of a blow-up and organizational crisis because the policy, as written, interferes with the drinking practices of high-functioning, top management and corporate executives who run the organization? It’s the elephant in the living room – or I should say in the boardroom with many employers.
Employees drinking beer and booze at lunch

Some companies have zero tolerance policies that state no alcohol may be consumed before coming to work, at at lunch during the work day, or before  the employee's return to the workplace at any time. They focus on consumption around the use of the substance, not performance related symptoms of the disease of alcoholism.

This can be a mistake when it comes to alcohol use. Illicit drugs are a different matter altogether.

Some hospitals have very strict policies. And who can blame with them with amount of risk to patients from an employee who came back to work with one too many. Sounds logical and fitting to implement, right? Maybe not.
Be careful when implementing a zero-tolerance policy so that you get buy-in from top management--you may have alcoholics working in the organization in powerful positions who will fight your efforts.

Better than a zero tolerance policy is one that focuses on performance and behavior, being "under the influence" when returning to work, and signs and symptoms that indicate an employees is not fit for duty.

Alcoholics usually do not appear under the influence, even when drunk on the job because of tolerance. And here is something to consider: Can a VP of marketing go out to lunch and have three martinis, but the mail room clerk get fired for the same thing and having a "breath on" -- no different than the VP of marketing?

Alcohol is a legal, addictive intoxicant for 10% of drinkers. These policies can get very sticky once they are implemented. The bottom line is this: You can’t author a zero tolerance policy without an accommodation provision for addicts, or at least the organization's alcoholics. Attempting to do so will cause alcoholic employees to hide or if the power exists, have the policy indiscriminately applied, or rejected by top management altogether who feel they have a right to keep a fifth of liquor in the boardroom.

Trust the research—if you have more than say 20 top management employees, you have an alcoholic in top management. Alcoholism affects approximately 7% of the workforce – 70% of employees (conservatively) drink beverage alcohol.

Many employers are burying their heads in the sand. The “zero” tolerance alcohol and drug abuse policy is not adding up because top management will not comply and ultimately exempt themselves from it. 

If a municipality wants to write a zero tolerance, day long policy, can they force employees not to consume a legal substance at lunch off site on their own time?

What about a hospital with employees caring for very ill patients? One hospital I worked for attempted to write a zero tolerance policy and it was immediately confronted by the hospital medical staff physicians. They were not about to comply with it. And no one could force them to do so. The Vice President of the Medical Staff – with interesting drinking practices, himself, led the rebellion.

These doctors wanted to drink alcohol during the work day at lunch, or whenever. They weren't about to be restricted in their alcohol use. That meant going back to work with a positive BAL. 
The Federal government has had the same problem for a long time where thousands of federal workers find watering at holes during the lunch hour to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which could cause them to leave work early if they experience agitation, or drink from a bottle of booze in the desk drawer.

Alcoholism is a disease, and the symptoms of it are manifested by the alcoholic’s inability to decide when they will drink, how much they will consume on any particular drinking occasion, and what the consequences will be—indirectly or directly—for consuming alcohol. This describes “loss of control.”

Most alcohol and drug policies are faulty. They are written with the assumption that any one can control their alcohol abuse and use, or addiction at any time. That is what a zero tolerance policy is predicted on.

Policies could be written for abstinence for everyone to follow, and then when violated, users could be referred to an employee assistance program or other occupational alcoholism assessment. But this does not happen in reality or with those at the top who control the organization.

Alcoholism is also characterized by tolerance to alcohol. This means the ability to drink more over time, not feel its effects, appear sober, drink larger quantities than non-alcoholics, and appear functional, even with a high blood alcohol
This is a big problem with drug-free workplace policies that try to impose all-day abstinence on all workers.
The rate of alcoholism in Great Britain is much higher than in the USA—for males about 25% of the workforce. Ditto Australia and Russia. In the UK, it is illegal to take action against a worker for being drunk on the job where the only evidence is alcohol on the breath. Behavioral cues that are documentable performance issues must be used as the criteria for a reasonable suspicion drug test or other job action associated with intoxicant use.
This phenomenon is a big problem for drug free workplace policies that are written to be zero tolerance documents. A zero tolerance policy usually states that an employee will be fired for being drunk on the job or abusing drugs on the job.

How do we deal with the issue of tolerance as described above? And how do we deal with alcoholics in withdrawal? How do we address use of alcohol during the workday for those who will not be noticed because of high tolerance.

Can employees drink during the workday at lunch? How many drinks? Can we control employees’ behavior at lunch on their own time? What about employees in withdrawal because of alcohol addiction who must drink at lunch or appear dysfunctional in the afternoon unable to contain their physical symptoms, hide them, or show dysfunction because of withdrawal symptoms. All of this leads to risk, absenteeism, and productivity costs of one type or another.

You better answer these questions before signing off on that drug-free workplace policy that you are calling zero tolerance. Zero tolerance policies are great in theory, but without treatment and accommodation provisions within them for addicts, they cause employees to hide their drinking and drug use, and increase risk to the organization. And employees who control the organization will write themselves an exemption.

There is nothing more problematic than a drug-free workplace policy that is zero tolerance, meaning that employees are fired for abusing drugs on the job or having a positive blood alcohol level. Ultimately, it will be discriminatory.
Here’s why: Employees who are alcoholic MUST possess a positive blood alcohol level, and if they do not, they go into withdrawal and may not be able to function on the job and ward off withdrawal symptoms like shaking, being tremulous, cravings for a drink, and mood swings associated with this condition.

When I authored the drug free workplace policy at a hospital 25 years ago, the policy was written from a risk management viewpoint. The policy stated that employees may not consume alcohol or drugs during the workday or off campus at lunch during the work day. It sounded great.  Medical doctors were not required to comply with the policy. And they refused, making it a power issue.

Doctors control hospitals, not hospital administrators. Remember that. He who owns the gold makes the rules. And medical doctors report to head doctors. And if that doctor is a lunch time drinker, or keeps a bottle of booze in their office, all bets are off.

Medical doctors who are alcoholic, depending on the progression of their illness, must go to lunch and drink, drink in the hospital, and if necessary return to work intoxicated—even surgeons.

So, in theory, at a hospital where medical doctors are exempt from a drug and alcohol policy, it is permissible for the doctors to consume alcohol during the workday, and potentially be drunk on the job. They do their own thing at the peril of the community.

At last report, the drug-free workplace policy at the hospital where I work still does not apply to physicians--only to other employees in the hospital. Medical staff reserves the right to consume alcohol before work, during the work day, late afternoon, or at any time they choose. Perhaps none of the medical staff drink during the work day—but do you believe that? Get non-dot supervisor training or DOT supervisor training

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Facing the Challenge of Confronting Employees Who May Be Using Drugs or Alcohol on the Job

Scared to confront drug and alcohol using DOT employeesConfronting an employee who may be under the influence is one of the most difficult and challenging jobs you will face as a manager.

Confronting employees is difficult because drug using employees or those with alcohol use problems are in denial about their problematic use of substances.Confrontations by others before you as a supervisor give your employee the opportunity to craft well-honed defense mechanisms long before you intervene. You, in effect, are not the first person the employee has encountered. You will discover such employees are defensive, and they will well bolstered ability to intellectualize and shut you down in any verbal back and forth about your observations and the need for a test. Suffice to say, you will be no verbal match if you decide to inspire them to cooperate with you.
experiences you will face being a manager. Although an alcoholic and drug policy can make it necessary, legal, and part of the job of being a supervisor, this responsibility is not a pleasant one. It is quite anxiety provoking as an essential function of your position, especially if you supervise employees in regulated DOT positions.

So, just act on your job, and pursue the penalty associated with a refusal to test.

Employees with substance abuse problems become highly adept at “reading” the emotions and “attitudes” of others with whom they engage. This is not because of alcoholism or drug addiction per se, but their need to remain in a mentally defensive posture to determine how they will explain away their drug and alcohol use problems, the goal of which is to avoid pinning such problems on substances, and instead keep the focus on external factors like other people, places, and things that caused them to have a mishap.

Over time, alcoholics and drug addicts learn to develop explanations of the drug and alcohol problems to satisfy those who confront them, and one way of doing this is to remain hyper vigilant. Assume you will never win the game of gotcha with these employees.

Always use a checklist when considering the behavior and conduct and attitude of employees you observe when attempting to determine whether there is reasonable suspicion to refer them to a drug and alcohol test. If you do not have a checklist, consider having such a document as a PDF on your smart phone or shrink the text and put it on an old playing card. Slip that into your wallet. You can also search online at any time for such a document. In the absences of these tools, focus on what you are seeing, smelling, feeling, and hearing.

Get a program for DOT drug and alcohol supervisor training or  non-dot supervisor reasonable suspicion training.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Educate DOT Supervisors about K2 (Spice)

The U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines do not require that a synthetic drug called "K2" or Spice--and its symptoms of use or effects of use--be part of the DOT reasonable
suspicion training course that you might offer. And it won't be screened in a urine test.

But I recommend supervisors give it few slide frames of education because this stuff does affect the workplace, in fact, the U.S. Army is swimming in Spice/K2 problems, at least on some installations.

A recent story in a local newspaper in the town of Sioux Falls, ND discussed how a baby sitter left a 8 week old baby outside accidentally for 18 hours while high on K2--in the rain! She survived. But if you want unpredictable behavior, insanity, and at-risk employee in your workplace, this is the drug that delivers.

K2 is often called synthetic pot or marijuana. Who knows why the call it that. A look at the literature does not see much. It appears that the substance, rolled in cigarette paper or smoked in a pipe resemble the look and feel of marijuana, but smoking it is another experience entirely. K2 or Spice has nothing to with THC -- the active ingredient in POT. K2 is actually made from a bunch of crazy-ass chemicals that are sprayed on smoke-able material.

K2 is another name for synthetic marijuana. It's made from a variety of man-made chemicals and can be sprayed onto dried plant material to be smoked or it can be sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled. The important message is that the user is not going to have the same experience as smoking pot. The reason is obvious.  K2 Spice or synthetic marijuana is not pot. It junk of the worst order.

The agitation after smoking Spice can be enormous. The first symptoms are elevated mood, feeling relaxed, can finally alternate reality that will freak you out. Your heart might feeling like it beating itself to death, you may vomit. You may have a relaxed feeling, but one trip to YouTube to see people using Spice/K2, and you will be convinced otherwise that this drug is bad news. Paranoia, hallucinations, yep, everything comes with this smoke-able trash.

The chemicals that make up Spice/K2 don't even have names--just their chemical codes. Spice/K2 was legal at one point in time nationwide, now most are attempting to outlaw it.

​Alcohol Awareness Training to Meet DOT: Don't Make It All about Signs and Symptoms

​Alcohol Awareness Training to Meet DOT: Don't Make It All about Signs and Symptoms: Alcohol Training for DOT Supervisor Training, What to Include.

This blog post is about Alcohol Awareness Training for DOT Supervisors and going a bit further in explain the illness and treatment to inspire motivation and reduce enabling. We have discover over the years that more education about the disease actually does more to inspire supervisors to act rather than continue to cover up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Reasonable Suspicion Training Online Should Include So Supervisors Don't Snooze.......ZZZ

If DOT supervisor training for reasonable suspicion of drug and alcohol abuse is going to be effective, then one thing's for sure: 1) Supervisors must watch the program and 2) Supervisor must remember what they saw.

Oh, sure - you can get supervisors trained pretty easily, but will they act on what they were supposed to learn, when necessary, to intervene and refer a drug user or drunk employee to testing? That, indeed, is the question.

With these issues in mind, let's discuss several key ingredients of effective supervisor training that together will give you the best shot of keeping someone from getting killed in or outside of your organization as a result of alcohol misuse and drug abuse by a worker.

image of examples of dot supervisor training videos, powerpoint, DVD, and Web Courses
Restricted Training Program
Regarding online reasonable suspicion training, a restricted training program is a must. It is designed to maximize engagement to supervisors don't fall asleep

It must also be manual. No auto-playing like a movie.  It must be engaging, and frames must be clicked manually to advance the course. This forgoes sleeping. It does not run like a movie so the learner can snooze until the end. No way. Many DOT supervisor training programs for drug and alcohol course completion do, so guard against purchasing a program that allows nap time. (I know, I bet I am the only one talking about this. Guess why. I have been training and creating DOT courses for 20 years. I have seen it all.)

The web course should force the learner to click each frame, and the course must have two hours of content -- no not necessarily all of it audio-visual--in fact, definitely not. I will discuss this below.

Multi-Educational Elements -- Don't Use a Course with All Audio-Visual Content

Many DOT reasonable suspicion training courses have two hours of audio-visual content running as shown above in a video presentation. I have discussed the downside of this type of course, but let's be honest, employees will doze in front of such training. The motto: "Wake me up when it is over."

To prevent this, as stated, you must force engagement. But another part of this is multi-educational elements that go a step further to reduce risk in your organization.

You training become "sticky" when you have numerous ways to absorb the information: audio, visual, manual engagement, educational test questions, and printable, take-away handouts that supervisors keep, use later, refer to, and refresh their memories with months and years after training.

Since supervisor training for DOT supervisors is not required but ONE TIME -- they must walk away with resources that will help them act when necessary. 

Alcoholism Education--Make It Intensive, and Scientifically Based

Alcohol abuse, alcoholism, addiction, and addictive disease (ditto drug abuse) are confusing terms, completely embedded in mythology, centuries of arguments, family history, and more. It's a real mess. Everyone you know including your mother can tell you what any of them means. But most are wrong.

These terms in one form or another have been around 7,000-8,000 years since beverage alcohol was discovered in the form of wine by the Chinese. Luckily there has been enormous research on genetics to explain alcoholism, its cause, who is at risk, and why the disease is acquired.

If you do not punch hard at these issues, you will have supervisors walking way from the course completely unmoved in their fast held beliefs, which are usually completely wrong.

These beliefs, most of which are rooted in morality, will power, too much alcohol abuse, character, religious issues, and personality disorder-related myths and false models of causation, interfere with behaviors of a supervisor. As I author this post, a new study related to genetics that predicts alcoholism has just been released. You can see it here. Alcoholism is not an equal opportunity illness. It sounds clever, but the truth is some people will never become alcoholic no matter how much that attempt to drink. They will get sick, throw up, become adverse to drinking. They just don't the the genetic constitution to become addicted. Others will become alcoholic beginning with their first drink.

There are other elements to help make training more effective. But the most important common denominator of the above issues is that none of them are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations governing training of alcohol and drug abuse of DOT Supervisors.

I will continue with these other issues in an additional post soon.

to prevent the supervisor-participant from skipping frames of the course, jumping to the test, completing it, and walking away without learning a thing.

 Get reasonable suspicion training now or see the full course for free..

Monday, November 13, 2017

DOT Supervisor Training Requirements for the DOT Supervisor Training Certificate

Many of you are asking about the DOT Supervisor Training Requirements and the need for a DOT Supervisor Training Certificate. I have faster way of explaining this with the graphic shown below. Feel free go ahead see the full DOT Drug and Alcohol Program without cost or obligation at in case you are looking for such training. You can get training for ONE SUPERVISOR or own the program in any format like PowerPoint, DVD, Web Course, or Video.

You will find this full graphic DOT TRAINING DECISION FLOW CHART HERE.

graphic for DOT training flow of reasonable suspicion training
Click here to see the full document of this flow chart above.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reasonable Suspicion Training Topic: Throw in Some News and Information on Teen Substance Abuse

We know that the U.S. Department of Transportation does not require that mandatory alcohol and drug education

Teen substance abuse for DOT Supervisor Training

for DOT supervisors include information like teen drug abuse, enabling,
or even job performance related information associated with employee
substance abuse -- except of course, how these might affect psycho-motor
skills. In other words, discussing absenteeism is not even relevant if
you read the regulations.

Obviously, your training needs more
than what the DOT recommends. If not, you're going to fall short of
motivating DOT supervisors to act on the drug-free workplace policy if
they stay awake, that is. And, this is the goal, correct--acting to
refer to testing if signs and symptoms of substance abuse are demonstrated by reasonable suspicion?

Reasonable Suspicion Training Topic: Throw in Some News and Information on Teen Substance Abuse

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Let DOT Supervisors Understand How Treatment Works to Prevent Sabotage By Their Provocative Statements

Addiction is a highly treatable illness. But there is a lot more to this success than just sobering up a patient. Five elements are critical or you can forget it. 2) is treatment after 1) detox. Treatment is not psychotherapy. It is education about staying sober and not picking up a drink. There is a lot to this this process.

The most important skill is awareness of defense mechanism and how they operate to

Train supervisors to be effective in identifying possibly intoxicated employees
destroy sobriety. Then there is 3)  aftercare--more education. And then their is 4) Alcoholics Anonymous participation--yes for every patient. Why? Because it is the best path to sustained recovery. It works best for most. The argument that AA is not needed because it is too "religious" is totally BS. AA is flat out the only way to go in my 33 year history of working with addicts. And I am not alcoholic. I have worked in five addiction treatment settings.

I can argue against anyone's idea that AA is not the best way to go. I have every argument ever posed against AA. AA is flat out absolutely the best path for recovery. Success rates consistently approach 70-80% with good follow up by EAPs and providers post treatment. A short relapse is possible with any addict, but people can climb right back into sobriety with aggressive follow up that catches it early. DOT reasonable suspicion training should educate supervisors about the treatment process to de-mystify it. If this does not happen, they are at risk for provocative statements that can undermine recovery.

 Employees general recover well, and frequently become better than well.  Some drug addictions are tougher to treat, like cocaine addiction. 5) Is telephone follow up to identify diminishing recovery behaviors early. The phone call should be once per month for two years. When the patient reports moving from 4-5 AA meetings per week to 2-3, a personal interview with the recovering alcoholic is immediately needed as a intervention step prior to the first drink.

Early action by DOT supervisors in response to job performance problems increases the rate by which addicts are helped due to earlier referral to employee assistance programs.  Symptoms of addiction that the average untrained individual may easily associate with a drinking or drug problem may not appear in the workplace until 15-20 years after the diagnosis exists. Experience  a full preview our DOT Supervisor training here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

DOT Supervisor Training for Purchase By Employers to Meet Drug and Alcoh...


Friday, October 6, 2017

Drug Awareness Training on Substance Abuse Material Must Grab Supervisors' Misconceptions

Drug Awareness Training Material is something that most employers want to get right once they have decided to start training their employees and upper management on substance abuse in the workplace.

There are many different options to train workers and supervisors, so it can be overwhelming to determine what will work best, especially for DOT Supervisor Training where specifics are mandatory for these positions. The bottom line: You want supervisors acting on what they learn. Well, there are only a couple ways to ensure this happens . . .

Monday, October 2, 2017

DOT Supervisor Training: Part 1 of 5: Myths and Misconceptions that Don't Match Reality -- One of Five Ways Supervisors Cover Up, Enable, and Sabotage Drug Free Workplace Programs

Bill possesses a lot myths about alcoholism, he is probably alcoholic given the anecdotal information, and he has set himself up to avoid confrontation of employees he supervises.

Bill is an at-risk supervisor. He can be educated about substance abuse, but he needs to learn much more than the DOT regulations require. And if you have Bill on your staff, you need proper drug and alcohol training for supervisors that talks about these sorts of behaviors. They increase risk.

We learn about alcoholism early in life, but may not have an accurate clue about what it actually is and what causes it. Research has determined these things.

We learn from word of mouth, TV, and from our own experience in our families. In many ways, those who have had alcoholic family members are the most at-risk DOT supervisors because they will typically have the most rigid and unshakeable beliefs about addiction -- usually wrong.

It’s not their fault. They are victims of misinformation and about 5000 years of confusion associated with alcoholism and drug addiction. READ MORE

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Loss of Control? Why DOT Supervisor Training Should Discuss It

Loss of control is a hallmark of addiction and addictive disease. Why do DOT supervisors need to know about this biological reality? The answer is simple. It helps them detach themselves from myths and misconceptions so they can act on the drug free workplace policy. Loss of control means much more than going to a party and being unable to stop drinking once you stop, which is rare for even most alcoholics.
Social drinkers can consistently predict their ability to control all the factors shown above, including their decision to over use alcohol, or get drunk. DOT Supervisors will often have social opportunities in which their employees off the job use alcohol. Getting drunk does not mean your an alcoholic it simply means you abused alcohol (and yourself.) Here's something to think about:  Getting drunk is a choice for the social drinker.  It is a symptom of the disease for the alcoholic. Once a DOT Supervisor is able to wrap their head around this paradigm shift in understanding alcohol and its effects, big things happen.
As the disease progresses, most alcoholics will eventually discover maintenance drinking.  This is an attempt by the alcoholic to consume alcohol at a rate and frequency capable of helping him or her maintain a certain blood alcohol level to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
That is why we discuss this concept in the DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Program

Friday, September 8, 2017

Intervening with an Alcoholic: New Methodology that Will Make You an Unstoppable Intervention Force for Treatment

Start here:

You can get intervention guidance by phone, but first start with this video. Phone 1-800-626-4327 after viewing the video above

Did you know that thousands of people are admitted to drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs every day in the U.S. and that 99.99% of them are voluntary admissions without any prompting or help by professional counselors who claim to be family intervention specialists?

The television and even healthcare marketers would have you believe that you can't do an intervention yourself, and that you need them to educate you and also be present at the intervention to guide everyone so the meeting is effective in motivating the alcoholic or drug addict to accept help through an intense emotional appeal by visibly moved and desperate people. This is nonsense. You can learn intervention fairly easily and become a force to be reckoned with that leads the alcohol or drug addict to accept treatment.

This new approach to teach people how to do interventions is called the Family Empowerment Model created by Daniel Feerst, MSW, LISW-CP.

This approach to intervention is teachable, and relies upon the power of influence and leverage, which are naturally occurring forces existing in all relationships. Intervention education has its purpose in helping you discover the influence and leverage afforded in the family or friend group that you share with others who are concerned about the welfare of a loved one who is alcoholic.

To begin an intervention by group discussion, first what this video above, and then phone 1-800-626-4327. We do charge a fee for what is typically a two hour phone conversation that will require to meetings. We work with families or businesses.

Start here:

I'm Not Drinking! It's Mouthwash, Man!

employee telling supervisor that he is smelling perfume not alcohol
Perfume with Alcohol = Alcohol in Perfume.
Once you have completed DOT Supervisor Training, the fun begins.

The last time you went to Walmart and bought some medicine, did you notice that it smelled like booze on your Uncle's breath? No, it did not.

There is no medicine sold at Walmart that will smell like booze. Yet, this is one of the most common of excuses given by employees for explaining alcohol on their breath.

There are dozens of excuses associated with employees who are confronted for reasonable suspicion of using substances on the job. Many are highly creative. However, most are not original, except to the alcoholic him- or herself, who thinks they sound pretty good. To make them sound even more believable, a lot of added emotion is typically injected into the explanation you'll hear. Shouting and intimidation are also typical garnishments designed to help you accept the excuse more readily.

Reasonable suspicion training requires understanding this information, which is why we are the only DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Program in the USA that includes this educational information -- unless of course -- this content was "borrowed" from us. We're pros in what we produce. Not freelance authors. Trench work is our background, not library research.

Two common excuses you will hear from employees are similar - 1) I'm not drinking, it's mouthwash; and 2) "I'm not drinking, it's medicine."

You will discover that the degree to which employees are emphatic about the nature of the substance you are smelling, the more inclined you will be to believe them. This is because you are hard-wired to except excuses that sound plausible because life is easier if you do not have to confront your employee and require them to be tested. Don't fall for it.

Most people don't know that alcohol is put into cough syrups. Some have 25% alcohol, which is enough to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Although most alcoholic in withdrawal will not drink cough syrup, a percentage have, and some alcoholic women have even consumed perfumes or colognes containing alcohol. If you visit an open AA meeting (or a closed AA meeting if you are a member of AA) you will eventually hear about perfume drinkers.

But for the alcoholic on the job, admitting to consuming anything with alcohol in it gives you reasonable cause to request a test. The same is true with medicines or mouthwashes. Reasonable cause is determined and based upon what you are smelling, not what the employees tells you the substance you are smelling is. DOT Supervisor Training should include information like the above to help bring reality to the nature of the illness and the symptoms of reasonable suspicion for the consumption of alcohol on the job.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Handouts and Tip Sheets for DOT Supervisor Training -- Get Some Good Ones

If you are training supervisors in a two-hour, DOT Drug and Alcohol Training Course, will they walk out the door as unprepared to confront workplace substance abuse as when they walked in? They will unless effective take-away handouts and tip sheets are included in your training.

Let's talk tip sheets and handouts. You probably distribute a chart with drugs and alcohol signs and symptoms on it. That's a good thing, but make your original copy editable so you an amend it with new substances of abuse that appear on the streets. Examples include things like Bath Salts, Spice/K2, and Salvia. These damn substances can be purchased online by anyone.

The point is, your training program can't be a simple educational experience with just signs and symptoms and drugs of abuse required by the DOT regulations. Sure, you will meet the "technical requirements"  for DOT Drug and Alcohol Training, but you will leave your organization at risk. Supervisors are scared of confronting employees. So you need to give them some take-away tools.

You must to go further so supervisors walk out the door really "getting it." The DOT got hung up on  semantics and terms when they wrote the regs. For example, they are using terms like "alcohol misuse" in the workplace rather than another term that could be far more useful and descriptive. Most addiction experts never heard this phrase used in any practical way until the DOT came up with it.

The US DOT offers only a few sentences that describe the educational mandate for workplace substance abuse education, but the employer will remain at risk if you do not address many other issues associated with substance abuse. So let's talk about how you can beef up your training, make it interesting, and do some real good with DOT wellness tip sheets and handouts associated with substance abuse education of supervisors. READ MORE . . .

Saturday, August 26, 2017

DOT Supervisor Training in Reasonable Suspicion: Don't Get Confused by Terminology

alcoholic employees can't drink safely ever again and be DOT drivers
"I hope above hope I can drink again.
I just need to deal with my depression, and I'm set." NOPE!
If you are new to education about substance abuse, the first think you need to know and teach others (if you are a DOT educator) is that alcoholism, drug addictions, and addictive disease are generally interchangeable terms. 

Don't get confused by the terminology. It will not be that important.

Realize however that medical professionals are continually debating the mostly settled science on the cause of alcoholism, and the psychiatric community especially, has a lot to lose by the growing end of psychiatric treatment for alcoholism -- in other words treating alcoholism as a mental disorder. Those days are done. It's nearly all about genetics.

By the way, alcoholics and drug addicts absolutely love to hear that their addiction is a psychiatric based illness. Do you know why? After all, who wants to think of themselves as psychiatric ill?

Well, if you
think alcoholism or addiction is a psychiatric problem, then you have hope of using again! You simply need to treat your psychiatric problem successfully, right. This is completely bogus. This however, is why so many millions of addicts die of their illness. They psychiatric message is KILLING THEM.

When alcoholics learn their illness is bio-genic and they can never, ever drink alcohol safely, all hope is lost for drinking alcohol again. See the difference? Now you must get angry, grieve, but face the truth and do what it takes to quit consuming beverage alcohol and other psycho-active substances that affect the mood. Any less is A RELAPSE brother!

Many alcoholics have used other drugs, legally prescribed or not, that are addictive. DOT supervisor training has to spend a little bit of time on this reality. Addictive disease or chemical dependency are terms used to help the public understand the clinical nature of addiction. They are helpful in reducing stigma. But terms like "chemical dependency" are particularly popular among the psychiatric community, and especially in California where a heavy mental health model to explain addition still lingers like deadly cyanide gas for unwitting patients who are addicts seeking treatment there.

Addiction is a disease process and it is primary.  Patients are therefore taught to manage their disease in order to prevent relapse in the same way diabetics are taught to manage their illness.  Use of alcohol or drugs begins with experimentation or peer pressure for almost every drinker.  Physiologic susceptibility determines the progression of the disease. This heavily influenced by genetics, but other factors can influence severity and course of the disease.

Alcoholism declared a disease in 1957 by the American Medical Association.

Alcoholism declared a disease in 1956 by the World Health Organization.

Research demonstrates most people believe alcoholism (addiction) to be a disease, however, this belief does not contribute easily to self-diagnosis because of denial.  Most people attempt to define alcoholism by behaviors (how much one drinks, when, or what) rather than medical, objective symptoms. Changing this view is key to intervention and reducing stigma.

Some occupations are characterized by more frequent opportunities to use alcohol socially or without observation.  Higher rates of alcoholism may therefore be found among a workforce that are predominantly male, or in occupations such as traveling sales, etc. (NIAA Research) The opportunity to tax one’s susceptibility increases one’s risk and the speed of onset for the illness. Train your supervisors in drug and alcohol education for the DOT

Friday, August 25, 2017

Don't Kill an Alcoholic Employee with Kindness: Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors

1.  Have you ever called someone a functional alcoholic?
2.  Do you have a social relationship with this person where drinking plays an important role?
3.  Have you heard “stories” about the functional alcoholic’s home life that are problematic or disturbing to you?
4.  Does the thought of not socializing with the functional alcoholic seem unacceptable and

5.  Have you dismissed or minimized alcohol-related problems that have occurred in the functional alcoholic’s life, even while thinking to yourself that this person needs help?

Would your decision to stop drinking with the functional alcoholic cause him or her to question your loyalty or ability to have a good time?

If others agreed to participate in an intervention to motivate the functional alcoholic to enter treatment, would you feel inclined to argue against it, motivated by how your life might change?
Do you believe the functional alcoholic would become boring if he or she decided to stop drinking for good? Preview the reasonable suspicion training program here.

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you are an enabler.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Do you provide education and awareness to employees concerning alcohol and other drugs of abuse?

drugs of abuse education for employees
There are powerful reasons for doing so, and they are all a win-win for employees and employers.

There is no government mandate for most industries to do employee awareness training in substance abuse (railroads have had such a mandate since 1986.) but I want to give you several reasons why you should consider it no matter what industry your associated with.

Employees deserve it. There is a terrible opioid crisis going on right now, alcoholism is never going away, pot use is increasing, and employees and their families are terribly affected by these problems.

You may not hear about the brother of your lead supervisor who is addicted to heroin or the sister of your secretary who moved into a homeless shelter last month, but these issues are pervasive in every company.

Employees may see TV commercials, or even hear the President of the United States talk about drug problems, but they aren't getting education about these issues from any source at home or in the community. Workplace wellness programming that you can easily provide is really the only way they can get it.

They can't get it anywhere. Employees aren't getting information about substance and prevention from TV shows or newspapers. They aren't learning about alcohol abuse, dealing with teens, stimulants, opioids, depressants, marijuana dangers, enabling, getting help, helping someone who doesn't want help, self-diagnosis, dispelling myths, and many more topics. (We cover all these things in our training program for employee drug and alcohol awareness.)

Employees have drug problems. Right now, there are employees on your payroll with drug and alcohol addiction problems. Most are in early or middle stage addiction. Very late stage addiction is obvious, and you may have seen these problems in the past. More problems are coming. It is only a matter of time.

Problems on staff. Statistically, about 5-7% of employees have drug and/or alcohol problems. But about 12-17% of your employees have family members at home or dependents with substance abuse the rest of this post on my blog at

Monday, August 7, 2017

DOT Supervisor Training Test Questions: Making Them Count with Impact and Reduced Risk to the Organization

If you offer DOT supervisor training or provide drug and alcohol training for supervisors for any reason, then it is critical that you give a test at the end of the training. Tests allow supervisors to absorb a bit more of what they learned, and this increases the likelihood they will act on the material. And of course, this reduces risk to the organization, increases referrals to testing, and improves productivity and the bottom line in the long run.

But test questions actually can do much more, and they have a lot more influence in making your drug free workplace training more effective than you may realize.

DOT Supervisor Training Certificate from Reasonable Suspicion Training

DOT Supervisor Training
Test Question Tips

1) Make Test Questions Educational
. Make the test questions in your training program educational. When employees answer the test questions, and check the correct answer, give them more information about the topic and capture this precious moment where you can educate them more thoroughly, offer new information, and having them think more deeply about the concept addressed in the test question on DOT supervisor training.

2) Add DOT Supervisor Training Questions Unrelated to the Content. Don't worry, there is no rule about content in test questions relating to what the supervisor learned in the content of the course. Mix it up. Have questions the supervisor may not know the answer to and make them controversial to inspire interest. Then, as mention above, offer education included in the answer to the question that increases the DOT supervisor's knowledge.

3) Force Correct Answer to Questions. Never allow supervisors to walk away with a so called "passing score" of less than 100%. Can you guess why? The reason is risk management. When a supervisor answers a question that is wrong, supply the correct answer or force the answer on a Web course by making them answer the test question again.

4) Reduce the Audio/Visual Portion of Training.
Because you are using test questions for educational purposes (and I hope handouts and tip sheets that are also required), reduce the audio-visual portion of the program. Nothing from the US DOT requires that audio/visual content itself be 60 minutes/60 minutes. In fact, your course can also include group discussion. How do I know? Well, I phoned the DOT headquarters myself and asked about this question.

Test questions can make your DOT supervisor training a lot more powerful and effective than you realize. And, most importantly, effective training ultimately saves lives.