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Employee Assistance Program EAP Blog

DOT Supervisor Training: Part 1 of 5: Myths and Misconceptions that Don't Match Reality -- One of Five Ways Supervisors Cover Up, Enable, and Sabotage Drug Free Workplace Programs

Posted by Daniel Feerst on

Bill’s a great plumber. His skills are like nobody's—he’s got the magic touch with plumbing and pipes, and he also has


a lot on his mind managing 20 other plumbers, assistants, and an office staff.

Unfortunately, seven of Bill's employees drive big trucks and they have unusual delivery shifts around the clock.

This means of course that Bill must participate in DOT Supervisor Training to educate himself about alcohol and specific types of drugs of abuse, the signs and symptoms of their abuse, effects on psycho-motor skills, and impact on the workplace.

Bill is a team player, so participating in drug and alcohol training or education not a problem. He is looking forward to the training for one other important reason. Bill is an expert on substance abuse. He's certain of it.

After all, Bill’s father was alcoholic and he seen problems all his life. And Bill himself has a lot of personal experience at


cutting back, especially at Lent, not touching a drop for 30 days! No alcoholic could do that right? Nope.

And Bill can drink anyone under the table. It doesn’t affect him much. He sees that as a blessing. Hey, who wouldn’t?

Bill is close friends with those he supervises, goes fishing with them, and on the way home from work stops by the local watering hole to share laughs with employees. Things just couldn’t be any better. He’s an easy going guy.

What’s wrong with this picture? And what are the risks at play with Bill’s supervision style? Obviously, there are many. When you provide DOT Supervisor Training, you are going to meet
Bills along the way.

And why should any of this matter to us as we educate supervisors about substances of abuse and provide them with DOT supervisor training for reasonable suspicion along with a nice checklist?

Bill possesses a lot myths about alcoholism, he is probably alcoholic given the anecdotal information, and he has set himself up to avoid confrontation of employees he supervises.

Bill is an at-risk supervisor. He can be educated about substance abuse, but he needs to learn much more than the DOT regulations require. And if you have Bill on your staff, you need proper drug and alcohol training for supervisors that talks about these sorts of behaviors. They increase risk.

We learn about alcoholism early in life, but may not have an accurate clue about what it actually is and what causes it. Research has determined these things.

We learn from word of mouth, TV, and from our own experience in our families. In many ways, those who have had alcoholic family members are the most at-risk DOT supervisors because they will typically have the most rigid and unshakeable beliefs about addiction -- usually wrong.

It’s not their fault. They are victims of misinformation and about 5000 years of confusion associated with alcoholism and drug addiction.

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