--

Site Information

Loading... Please wait... Loading... Please wait...
  • My Account
  • Connect with us

  • Download Our Catalog

WorkExcel.com

Discussing Stigma, Myths, and Misconceptions in DOT Reasonable Suspicion Training

Posted by Daniel A. Feerst, BSW, MSW, LISW-CP Publisher on

DOT reasonable suspicion training should include a short discussion with supervisors about the myths and misconceptions associated with alcoholism and drug addiction, and the impact these beliefs have on being effective in supporting a drug free workplace policy. My advice, so you have a bit of extra credibility, other than the force of your voice and degree, is to rely upon ASAM's definition of addiction (alcoholism) and your knowledge gained from this document on "Adoptive Twin Studies" overwhelmingly supporting the bio-genic nature of the disease. I am not saying you bog yourself down in the weeds on this subject, but I think you need to consider how rigidly people come to a DOT or any sort of alcohol and drug course which deeply ingrained beliefs that are often wrong about addictive disease. These include beliefs that addiction or alcoholism is a sign of personal weakness, a moral failing, poor willpower, part of a depression syndrome, evidence of psychological and personality problems, a subconscious desire for suicide, or proof of the addictive personality. All this stuff has been debunked.

Research like separated twin studies represent powerful evidence of genetic determination of "sedativism" for those who eventually become addicted if the consume psychoactive substances, often for the same reasons as any other person who decides to experiment with alcohol or an licit/illicit drug. One observation: Those with alcoholism in their families and the resultant codependency issues will be your most resistant learners.

The impact of myths associated with drug and alcohol abuse or addiction include the maintenance of stigma which fuels denial both in family members of alcoholics and the alcoholic him- or herself.

Stigma becomes a powerful deterrent to self-referral to alcoholism or drug addiction treatment programs. The most significant stigma interfering with self-diagnosis is the one associated with weakness and vulnerability. This is further compounded by a life long history, or decades of no perceived problems with alcohol, and strong feelings of empowerment from alcohol, as a near magical influence on social engagement. Now, alcohol has turned on the alcoholic and become his or her worst enemy. Be prepared in your reasonable suspicion training course for DOT supervisors to start squirming a bit in their seats during this discussion as a some self-diagnose themselves, a spouse, parent, or child.

Stigma can also contribute to clients avoiding formal and self-referral to the employee assistance program (EAP). Are you beginning to the importance of educating about stigma in a DOT reasonable suspicion training program?

Another vulnerable area for addicts is being blamed for problems they have caused due to their drinking escapades. Some these may include severe personal and financial hardship, or even the deaths of friends. I had a friend who made his autobiography public before he died of cancer, and in that story was an account of his responsible for killing three of his friends in a car crash when drunk decades earlier. Subsequently he got sober, and was in active recovery for 25 years, but it did not happen as a result of this incident. Instead, it was years later. Still, the need to protect oneself from guilt and rationalize and seek other reasons for problems one has caused like these is powerful fuel for denial.

Unless a supervisor in a reasonable suspicion training class can get past the myths and misconceptions, employees with substance abuse problems will remain at risk for being terminated rather than referred to help or an employee assistance program and addiction treatment.

But don't just discuss myths and realities, impart to DOT supervisors information about the chronic disease model of addiction its tenants. If this does not happen in your reasonable suspicion training class, then the blame and anger at addict will continue, and supervisors will remain more willing to fire employees than get them treatment. And if they do get treatment, they risk of sabotage is very high.

Personal experience with alcoholism or addiction in one’s family contributes to beliefs about the illness, its treat-ability, and its cause.Supervisors should understand that it is difficult to change, even in face of facts and overwhelming research. Many DOT supervisors will have alcoholism in their family—and if these were one’s parents, then strong misconceptions and false beliefs about addiction will exist. Coping with an alcoholic parent will establish beliefs about the disease that are not easily changed even with overwhelming facts.

​ Health Wellness Newsletter Tips: Understanding the Importance of Distribution, Production, and Frequency of an Employee Wellness and Health Newsletter

Your company needs a health wellness newsletter, and it is best to combine it with productivity tips, and as needed internal news about your company. This is the ideal internal communication vehicle. Consumers of this reading material and information range from your housekeeping staff to the board of directors, family members when it is taken [...]

Read More »


Reasonable Suspicion Training: Helping Managers Understand the Lexicon of Confusion Associated with Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Reasonable Suspicion Training should include a discussion with supervisors about all the terms common in the American lexicon of language associated with alcoholism, drug addiction, and addictive disease. These are generally interchangeable terms, but there are subtle differences, and they have an impact on recovery. Chemical Dependency is more commonly used on the West Coast in [...]

Read More »


Educate Employees about Heroin and Other Drug Abuse with an In-house Employee Newsletter

Reasonable Suspicion Training is an educational topic that should change and adjust more often than it does right now. That finally happened. You would have to be hiding under a rock not to notice the drug abuse crisis in America associated with opioids like heroin, fentanyl, and Oxycontin. It’s so outrageously bad that the U.S. Department of Transportation is [...]

Read More »


Explaining Denial to Supervisor in Reasonable Suspicion Training for DOT Drug and Alcohol Awareness

Dеnіаl іѕ the single biggest bаrrіеr tо rесоvеrу from drug and alcohol addiction. DOT supervisors should receive information about denial, because they will not escape its confusing nature as they seek to observe, implement, and confront employees suspected of using drugs and alcohol on the job. It іѕ аn elusive and dаngеrоuѕ раttеrn оf thought thаt іѕ extremely [...]

Read More »


Reasonable Suspicion Training: Instructing Supervisors in Assembling Documentation that Works

A checklist for reasonable suspicion is need to train supervisors in confronting an employee for reasonable suspicion training. Be sure to add this element in your drug and alcohol awareness class in how to document incidents properly that can support a request for a drug test is absolutely crucial because organizational or legal challenges, if they arise, [...]

Read More »


Opioid Withdrawal May Cause More Evidence of Drug Use Than Symptoms of Intoxication

Reasonable suspicion training isn't as easy it first appears. There are a lot of shades of gray, and it is important to help supervisors grasp some of nuances of symptoms. In this respect, you should include information about the behavioral patterns of opioid abusers so supervisors don't find themselves confused and in the dark. There is [...]

Read More »


Performance-based Intervention with an Employee Affected by Alcoholism and Experiencing Job Performance Problems

After reasonable suspicion training, supervisors refer to a testing facility when an employee is identified via signs and symptoms or some other requisite criteria, but there is more to the story if treatment is recommended or there is no larger system of employee assistance programming, no testing protocols, and no referral mechanism to help salvage [...]

Read More »


Reasonable Suspicion Training: Late on Monday, Absent on Friday, or the Day After Payday

Alcohol and drug using employees with substance abuse dependence may, in the later stages of their illness, demonstrate erratic attendance patterns that lead to their termination. One common pattern that you should discuss with supervisors in reasonable suspicion training is the problematic performance pattern of being absent on Monday, absent on Friday, and absent the day after payday. Alcoholics or drug [...]

Read More »


Respect in the Workplace Training Role Plays for Employees

You can educate employees about respect, but role plays are unsurpassed for helping employees begin the shift from being tolerant and respectful, to altering their biases that may spring back to life in the workplace and increase risk to the employer. Here are several role plays worth considering from our [ Respect in the Workplace [...]

Read More »