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.
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.