WHAT IS A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROFESSIONAL?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation -- 49 CFR Part 40 -- defines the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.
A SAP is an advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. His/her recommendations protect the public safety in the event that the employee returns to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.
A DOT recognized Substance Abuse Professional must be one of the following:
• A licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
• A licensed or certified social worker
• A licensed or certified psychologist
• A licensed or certified employee assistance professional
• A state-licensed or certified marriage and family therapist *
• An alcohol and drug abuse counselor **
The DOT regulations also require that SAPs complete the training and pass a nationally recognized examination. This program includes information on the nine required content areas as designated in DOT Section 281(c) of Part 40. Content areas include an overview of the DOT drug and alcohol testing program, the drug and alcohol testing rules, and key DOT drug testing requirements. [Click to view the complete DOT/SAP guidelines]
WHAT DOES A SAP DO?
The SAP's fundamental responsibility is to provide a comprehensive face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation to determine what level of assistance the employee needs in resolving problems associated with alcohol use or prohibited drug use. The SAP then recommends a course of education and/or treatment with which the employee must demonstrate successful compliance prior to returning to DOT safety-sensitive duty. Treatment recommendations can include, but are not limited to: In-patient treatment, partial in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, education programs, and aftercare. Education recommendations can include, but are not limited to bona fied drug and alcohol education courses, self-help groups, and community lectures. Upon the determination of the best recommendation for assistance, you will serve as a referral source to assist the employee's entry into an acceptable program.
Prior to the employee's return to safety-sensitive duties, the SAP will have a face-to-face follow-up evaluation with the employee to determine if the individual has demonstrated successful compliance with recommendations of the initial evaluation. This evaluation must be accomplished before an employer can consider the employee for return to safety-sensitive functions. Therefore, the evaluation serves to provide the employer with assurance that the employee has made appropriate clinical progress sufficient to return to duty.
* as of 9/22/06
** Must be certified by one of the following: the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission (NAADAC), the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC), or the National Board of Certified Counselors, Inc. and Affiliates/Master Addictions Counselor (NBCC).