Thursday, April 14, 2011

How To Recognize Problem and/or Substance-Abusing Employees

The following is a sample of a proposal to provide training for supervisors.  This training can be customized for businesses with/without drug testing policies and/or Employee Assistance Programs.

My name is Jeanie Jones and I am here today to present to you why I think I am the best candidate to provide training to your supervisors on the issues of how to recognize substance-abusing employees, how to deal with the issues of substance-abusing employees and what to do once you have made a referral for help for an employee.

I will first present to you a little about myself, my credentials, my experience, including other training that I have provided.  Then I will present to you my ideas about training your supervisors and will give you brief examples of what the training will consist of and what hand-outs I would use.  My style of presentation is casual and will be so today;  I always have goals and objectives for training but follow a loose agenda.  It is not always possible to know in advance what the exact needs of the participants are; therefore it is important to stay flexible while staying on track to reach the established goals.  In keeping with that, I always invite questions at any point in the presentation.

 I have worked in the field of substance abuse and mental health for 27 years.  I have worked as a clinician, supervisor, life skills educator and trainer.  I have been involved with School Team Training, as a facilitator and Crisis Team Training.  These were accomplished using a model that presented information and education on substance abuse or dealing with a crisis and then allowed team members time with their facilitator to use the information presented to tailor a plan to implement when they went back to their school or community. 
 I currently do contract work for Integris Corporate Assistance Program.  In addition to seeing clients for short-term assessment and problem-solving therapy, I provide De-Briefing for Crises, training for many of our agency and corporate contracts.  This includes Suicide Prevention, Preventing Burn-Out, Stress Management and Supervisor Training on How to Recognize Problem Employees.  I have provided training as a part of EAP contracts for Shawnee Public Schools and Shawnee Milling;  this consisted of new employee orientation and supervisor training.  I maintained an on-call assistance after the training to help supervisors deal with problem employees and assist in assessment and/or referral.

I have provided training statewide to substance abuse professionals on correct administration of the Addiction Severity Index.  These usually consisted of approximately 25 participants.
 What we do today in the arena of substance abuse is quite different than it was 20 years ago.  Then we told everybody “You can’t help anyone who doesn’t want help.  You just have to wait until they hit bottom.”   We required everybody who needed help to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days.  We said things like, “If you drink and it causes you problems and you continue to drink, it’s a problem.”  Everybody who had an alcohol or other drug problem went to 30 days of inpatient treatment.  Total abstinence was the only recommended course for anyone who had any type of alcohol or other drug problem, as defined above. 
Today we know that there are many opportunities to intervene before a person hits bottom.  We also know that a big, formal intervention where all the family members get together for weeks with a counselor and then meet to confront the alcoholic is not the only option for intervention.  There are also many options for treatment; most people who do require alcohol/other drug treatment can be quite successful on an outpatient basis. Many people who experience problems, such as a DUI, can be helped with education or brief intervention.  There are many more options for treatment modalities, as well.  We no longer take a “one size fits all” approach to dealing with the complex issues surrounding alcohol use, abuse, misuse and addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs.   It is imperative that anyone suspected of having an alcohol or other drug abuse problem be referred to a professional who will, initially do a brief screening and, if warranted,  do a thorough evaluation, using standardized tools and base their recommendations for treatment (if any) on the results of those tools. 

Tools:  ASI  (Addiction Severity Index)
ASAM Placement Criteria   (American Society of Addiction Medicine) 
MAST (Michigan Alcohol Screening Test)

Having policies, which address substance abuse and how it affects workers and the workplace, is one such opportunity for intervention.  Because of the complex nature of drug abuse and addiction, it is important for supervisors who will be implementing such policies, to have a working understanding of drug abuse and work through their own issues of “that’s not my business.”  Buy in from supervisors, from the director to those who supervise line workers is essential to the success of any Employee Assistance or Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy and follow-up. 
It would be my suggestion to start the training of supervisors with a frank discussion about the policies; why they are necessary and what each supervisor’s responsibility is.   Pointing out the benefits to all in dealing with substance abuse in the workplace would help accomplish this.   The supervisor’s would need to understand the alcohol and drug policies and know and understand their role in implementation and maintenance.

Handout A

The second thing I would address is what substance abuse is and how it costs us money.  The supervisors need to understand and be able to recognize the effects of substance abuse in the workplace. 


Handout C

It is then important to look at Troubled Employee Cycles and symptoms that could be indicative of substance abuse.  Again, it is important to stress, it is not the supervisor’s job to diagnose or attempt to offer advice for treatment, but rather to gather objective information that will help in the assistance of the employee, or termination if the behavior persists. 

Handout D

Go over all of these with discussions about what they mean and why they are important.

Role Play or give scenarios of how to approach an employee.  It is important that the supervisors know how to observe and document unsatisfactory job performance.
Supervisors also need training on how to document employee performance and behavioral changes and how to confront workers according the Health Department’s procedures. 

It is important that supervisors know how to refer an employee to those who are qualified to make a diagnosis and offer assistance.   The three types of referral are:  Voluntary, at the Supervisor’s Suggestion and Involuntary.

Handout E

Talk about what can happen after an employee goes to treatment.


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