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.