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

Posted by Daniel Feerst on

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 my experience having run at least one hospital

Reasonable Suspicion Training Handouts

there. I believe 40 years ago when strong psychological causation biases existed, (now mostly debunked) this term emerged among the psychological treatment crowd.

What's more, California tends to be a haven for alternative and progressive therapies, and having these "treatments" effectively marketed to the population and presenting them as solutions to drug addiction works better when "chemical dependency" is used -- it sounds more psychological and holistically caused -- which it is not. It is pure biogenic.

Many alcoholics have used other drugs, legally prescribed or not, that are addictive. Addictive disease or chemical dependency are terms used to help the public understand that any mood altering substance is off bounds for those recovering from addictive disease. Personally, I use the terms addictive disease or addiction. I believe it more precisely characterizes the condition and points to its proper treatment.

Addiction is a disease process and it is primary.Patients are therefore taught to manage their disease in order to prevent relapse in the same way diabetics are taught to manage their illness.Use of alcohol or drugs begins with experimentation or peer pressure for almost any drinker.Physiologic susceptibility determines from that point the progression of the disease.But other factors can influence severity and course of the disease.

Alcoholism declared a disease in 1957 by the American Medical Association -- this was 60 years ago. The impact of this reality should be overwhelming, and should make a big impact on supervisors in your reasonable suspicion training class  or non-dot reasonable suspicion class, that believing anything else about the origin of addictive disease other than biogenic reality, is simply foolish

Even earlier than the American Medical Association was Alcoholism being declared a disease in 1956 by the World Health Organization.

Research demonstrates most people believe alcoholism (addiction) to be a disease, however, this belief does not contribute easily to self-diagnosis because of denial. Most people attempt to define alcoholism by behaviors (how much one drinks, when, or what). These ideas about diagnosis comparing oneself out of the diagnosis are also rooted in beliefs that are false.

Your reasonable suspicion training class for DOT supervisors must be one where supervisors walk out understanding the illness more completely. These concepts above are a beginning place for making that happen.

Some occupations are characterized by more frequent opportunity to use alcohol socially or without observation.This is why higher rates of alcoholism can be expected in workforce's that are predominantly male, or positions such as traveling sale forces.The opportunity to tax one’s susceptibility increases risk and the speed of onset.

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