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How to Handle Substance Use Disorder in the Workplace
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

You can be an ally for your employees who may struggle with substance use disorder (SUD), especially through the return-to-duty process and a drug and alcohol random testing program.

Substance use disorder (SUD), commonly referred to as substance abuse, is a prevalent problem for CDL drivers. Numerous factors may contribute to drivers turning to drugs, including loneliness on the road (especially for long-haul drivers), fighting fatigue during late night or early morning runs, and even boredom while waiting for their next load.

The industry and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have struggled to help these drivers and reduce the number of violations related to SUD.

According to the latest FMCSA Clearinghouse report, the percentage of CDL drivers misusing substances continues to climb. Drivers have tested positive 37,806 times for marijuana alone since the Clearinghouse was introduced in 2020.

Are you part of the 1 in 3 carriers  who aren’t Clearinghouse compliant?

Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) comes with many risks on its own, but adding SUD to the mix can only make it more dangerous for your driver and those they share the roadways with. Their cognitive function and judgment can be impaired, causing them to drive faster and make poor decisions – both potentially leading to crashes and lawsuits.

You, as an employer, can make a difference with SUD among CDL drivers. We suggest starting with these four ideas:

  1. Know what happens if a truck driver fails a drug test
  2. Share your workplace drug and alcohol policy regularly
  3. Provide additional resources to help your employees
  4. Have a solid DOT drug and alcohol testing program in place

Keep reading to ensure you have the solutions you need to combat this situation.

Know what happens if a truck driver fails a drug test

If a CDL driver produces a non-negative drug test result, it may open the door to having a conversation about substance use disorder. It’s never easy to talk about, even with your closest coworkers, but we encourage you to tread lightly.

Your driver must comply with federal guidelines that involve being removed from their safety-sensitive duties. You may need to find someone to fill their shoes while they complete the return-to-duty process.

Get a DOT drug testing program now

The return-to-duty process involves crucial steps that can help your driver and business get back on track. Your employee will need to be evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and complete a treatment program directed by the SAP.

We cover everything you need to know about the process in this Foley article. If you have any questions about this sensitive process, Foley’s drug and alcohol compliance experts are here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Share your workplace drug and alcohol policy regularly

If your employees are constantly reminded that substance use is not tolerated at your company, they may be less likely to turn to drugs knowing their job is on the line.

Designate a time to review your written drug and alcohol policy (which is required by the FMCSA) on at least a monthly basis to ensure both new and long-time employees are aware of what is expected of them, both at your workplace and in the cab. They should understand that their choices can impact many more lives than just their own.

Need a DOT-compliant drug & alcohol policy?  Click here

Emphasizing your drug and alcohol random testing program may also encourage employees to stay clean, as they could be tested at any time.

Provide additional supportive resources for employees

Tackling substance use disorder on your own or with the help of your HR department isn’t always possible. You may need support from trained professionals who can assist you with educating your fleet or working with employees who struggle with SUD, mental health, and other conditions that can affect their job performance and satisfaction.

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – Some EAPs focus on SUD and treatment referrals, while others can assist with family and financial struggles.
  • Voluntary Referral Programs – Employees can self-report their drug or alcohol use prior to failing a drug test, plus they can receive the evaluation and treatment they need.
  • Peer Reporting Programs – Employees can anonymously identify co-workers they believe are struggling with substance use disorders.

You have the power to be an ally to your employees. Any step toward helping them through their struggles can ultimately lead to them living a clean, healthy lifestyle.

Have a solid DOT drug and alcohol testing program in place

Not only is it a federal requirement, but a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program also helps ensure you’re hiring and maintaining a safe fleet.

Foley’s drug and alcohol testing program has everything you need to be compliant, including a written policy, a drug and alcohol random testing program, return-to-duty process/follow-up testing, and even 24/7 online support.

Get to know the Foley drug and alcohol testing software by calling our DOT compliance specialists or signing up for a free software demo. 

Soon enough, you’ll know why so many federally regulated companies like yours depend on Foley for their drug and alcohol testing compliance solutions. Fill out the form now to get started. 

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