Friday, April 21, 2017

Drugs of Abuse Chart for DOT Supervisor Training

I hope most drug and alcohol training programs provide a drugs of abuse chart for supervisors to look and discuss in their DOT compliance training classes. The drugs of abuse chart typically shows the five classifications of drugs and alcohol that the DOT requires to be examined by supervisors to help them learn about the nature of these substances, their effects on work performance, and the behavior of employees, signs and symptoms of their use, and the risks the substances pose in the work environment.

This chart should be editable and it should change over time with the discovery of new drugs of abuse that could find their way into the workplace. Employees these days have many sneaky ways of bring drugs into workplace, here is an example of a crack pipe we show in our DOT Supervisor Training PowerPoint and other training formatted courses.

DOT Supervisor Training PowerPoint for Reasonble Suspicion

Pretty crazy, huh? And this crack pipe is only a small example of the types of devices that are produced to thwart detection by management and provide reasonable suspicion training.

There are many other examples of how drug use is snuck into companies. I also have an image of a Chapstick that is really also a crack pipe. When all these clever tricks exist, there is only one thing supervisors can do about it -- monitor performance effectively. The drugs of abuse chart can help, but don't be fooled, good old fashioned observation of behaviors on the job is the way to go.

So, sure, knowing all these devices of trickery is a good thing for awareness, but none of it substitutes for a really solid drugs of abuse chart where supervisors can learn about the behavior of employees and how to be healthy.

Supervisor should be educated about other drugs of abuse like Salvia and K2. When supervisor training refresher is done, ask them to update their own charts with the drug and alcohol training they receive. And, as I mentioned before, do not omit employee education about substance abuse. Employees are your eyes and ears. They will let you know by one means or another, what is going on in the organization. But you are going to need to engage with them until they trust you. At that point, they will stop dropping hints about the work culture and what risks exist within it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training Video: Why Employees at Work Drunk May Appear Complete 100% Sober


Educating supervisors about substance abuse is best accomplished when you also help them grasp the idea of something called drug tolerance. Drug tolerance has a simple meaning – your body requires more of the substance in order to achieve the same psychoactive effect desired – the high or the buzz. This is a nervous system reaction, and it occurs with all addicts. Alcoholism, cocaine addiction, opiates, they all build tolerance. In fact, build up of tolerance is part of the diagnosis of addiction and substance use disorders.

This is a problem for alcoholics and drug addicts for several reasons:

Being at work drunk and unnoticed. Tolerance to a drug is the body’s way--and particularly your nervous system’s way--of getting use to the presence of a substance. In the beginning there is a pleasant high or buzz the addict may perceive as the chemical reacts fully to your nervous system following consuming the substance. The nervous system chemicals that create a sense of pleasure begin failing at re-capturing their chemical messengers and aren't as efficient. And your feeling of getting "high" suffers. One's response to the drug is therefore diminished.

An overdose however can still kill. Drink alcohol on top of drug use or the other way around, and death can happen. Tolerance to a drug is not a reversible phenomenon, and it is considered linked and part of the disease process. Can you see why understanding this content is important in DOT reasonable suspicion training to help supervisors gain appreciation for just signs and symptoms, but disease of addiction that more often affects employees under the influence?

 Withdrawal Symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms affect employees’ ability to perform. An employee may actually be more capable of performing under the influence with a high blood alcohol content than if they were completely sober at 0.00 BAC, but in withdrawal and needing a drink in order to prevent going into seizures, shaking uncontrollably, or even DTs. (Delirium Tremens) All psycho-motor skills of the employee drug or alcohol user can be affected. So, a solid checklist of these signs and symptoms is important to give employees in a DOT compliance training class or presentation, especially a PowerPoint reasonable suspicion training class.
Adverse Effects on Memory. You can have an employee sitting in front of you when confronting him or her about their drinking on the job, and have a reasonably coherent conversation. The next day, they may not remember it at all because of an alcoholic black out. Many supervisors in the DOT compliance training class will have stories of drunk employees they will share.

Increased Risk by Employees. Employees will be at risk for more accidents when they are using substances on the job. And believe it or not, as I alluded to, an increased number of accidents can happen to employees who are in withdrawal on the job, but with zero BAC levels.

Skills in Being a B.S. Artist. Alcoholic employees must be come BS artists to keep you guessing, and see them as cooperative, jolly, personal favorites of yours. This attitude toward alcoholic employees will keep their performance curve higher in your mind that it actually is in a quantifiable form. This is part of the enabling pattern. Employees who talk a good game but have absenteeism issues and poor work quality are not satisfactory workers simply because they appear to highly positive personalities. Don’t let supervisors be lured into this dynamic, and address this problem in reasonable suspicion training

Attendance and Availability Impact. Employees with drug and alcohol problems will eventually have attendance problems—not showing up for work. They may look good at work, but they are alcoholic and behaviors will eventually catch up to them. And you never know when it will happen. Fridays, Mondays, and the day after payday are the most common absence days for addicts.

The other attendance related problems is availability – disappearing on the job. This can happen at lunch time or a couple 
hours after employees come to work when the BAL drops and they need a drink to fix it.. Drug and alcohol policies at hospitals typically do not cover medical doctors. Did you know that? Medical doctors average 2x the alcoholism rate of other persons. Now you know why. The protest the policy and get it changed. What medical doctor on staff at a hospital will ever subject themselves to a random drug screen? None.