Helping companies with drug & alcohol issues

iStock 000012402084 SmallWe understand the many issues that come when companies attempt to deal proactively with drug and alcohol issues that arise.

We also understand there is no "one best way" of dealing with these issues and each employer group must implement policies that match its business needs and its corporate culture.

We work with employers who by nature must have zero-tolerance of their employees being under the influence of drugs and alcohol on the job. Bus drivers, airline pilots and mechanics, ship captains, drivers of large commercial trucks, and pipeline operators all fall under Department of Transportation guidelines that put the safety of the traveling public ahead of the rights of the employee. We assist these companies with DOT-SAP assessments and help them maintain their Drug-Free Workplaces.

And we work with employers who accommodate their employees' medical use of cannabis, or who have employees in states where the recreational use of cannabis is allowed, and have made it clear to employees that they don't care what the employee does at home as long as they don't come to work impaired. We work with these companies on communicating expectations to employees, training supervisors on Reasonable Suspicion guidelines, and supporting impaired employees get the help they need.

iStock 000004281055 FullAnd we work with employers who have members of several unions working for them, and must deal with several different responses to these employees. Under one bargaining unit employees are terminated for the presence of drugs/alcohol in their system. Under another bargaining unit, employees are sent to the EAP for assessment and referral to maintain their job and career.

Here are several ways we help with these issues:

1. Employees who come to us to discuss their drug/alcohol use or abuse.

These employees often come to us after a "wake-up call" of some kind. One of our experts on drugs and alcohol sits down with them for a confidential assessment. We make recommendations based on this assessment. These recommendations can be simply cutting back on their use, they could be for some education, or some form of treatment ranging from outpatient counseling through intensive outpatient counseling all the way up to residential treatment following medical detoxification.

2. Employees who come to us after violating a Non-DOT employer drug/alcohol policy.

These employees have either voluntarily admitted to their employer that they have a problem, or have failed a drug or alcohol test. Our drug and alcohol experts sit down with them and assess the issue, again making appropriate recommendations, usually for education or treatment of some kind. Because the employee has signed a release to the employer, we communicate to the employer about their participation in our process, whether they are following through with our recommendations, and when they are ready to be considered by the employer for return to work. We do not communicate personal issues discussed; only the matters included in the release of information that pertain with their assessment and compliance with our recommendations. A recommendation for continued drug/testing is usually provided to the employer as well.

3. Employees who come to us after violating a DOT regulation.

These "safety-sensitive" employees under Department of Transportation guidelines see a Substance Abuse Professional qualified by DOT. The SAP makes recommendations which the employee must follow if they want to keep their ability to work in this kind of job anywhere again. Upon the employee's successful completion of these recommendations, the  SAP provides the employer with a drug/alcohol testing schedule that must be followed for up to five years.

4. Company Trainings

We provide a variety of trainings on this topic, including DOT two-hour training for supervisors (these follow DOT drug/alcohol guidelines), reasonable suspicion trainings, and employee drug and alcohol safety trainings.

5. Company Consultation

We are happy to talk with employers at any time and give our feedback about a particular case or even their entire drug/alcohol policy. We have expertise on both the human side of addictions and the importance of handling these cases with humane actions as well as the business case for a safe workplace and how critical it is for some industries to maintain a drug-free workplace.

We also understand the changing attitudes about cannabis in this country and how important it is for Hawaii employers to address this well in their policies. With dispensaries opening soon here, this will become even more important issue for employers to address, as well as expectations for their employees who travel to states or countries where recreational cannabis use has been legalized.