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Some employers are required by law to have their employees screened for drug use; the Department of Transportation, in particular, may mandate this testing for employees who use certain vehicles or equipment. Employers always hope that their people will pass with flying colors, of course—but this isn’t always the case. What do you do, though, when an employee fails a drug screening? Does that employee have to be fired? Can that employee ever be re-hired? The important thing, first and foremost, is to follow DOT guidelines to the letter, while also being aware of the addiction rehab options available in your area.

What Happens After a Positive Drug Test?

First things first: If an employee takes a DOT-mandated drug test, and that test comes back positive, you must remove that employee from any DOT-covered functions right away. This means any activity involving driving or operating a motor vehicle. Don’t wait for a written letter from the Medical Review Officer, or any follow-up from the testing. If an employee registers as positive for drugs or alcohol, he or she must be removed from DOT-covered functions right away, or else you’ll be in direct violation of the law.

What About Rehab and Recovery?

From there, it is legally mandated that employers provide these employees with information about qualified substance abuse professionals in the local area. This goes for anyone who tests positive in a random, pre-employment DOT drug or alcohol screening. Note: You are not required to pay for this addiction rehab. You’re not even required to pay for the evaluation. All that’s required of you, as an employer, is to provide employees who need it with a list of DOT-approved substance abuse professionals in your area. You can reach out to DOT directly for a list.

When Can These Employees Return to Work?

To return to DOT-covered, safety-sensitive duties, these employees must undergo the DOT Return to Duty protocol. This means being evaluated by a DOT substance abuse professional, completing the necessary treatment and/or education, and then having a follow-up evaluation from the substance abuse professional.

How long will all of this take, exactly? It just depends. The timeframe can be wildly variable, just depending on the nature of the addiction and the level of treatment or education that’s required. Remember that the substance abuse professional doesn’t work for your company, but for the general public, and he or she will only approve the return to duty when it’s clinically appropriate.

Does it Have to Be a DOT-Approved Substance Abuse Professional?

Be aware that these evaluations do have to be performed by DOT-qualified substance abuse professionals. In order to receive this qualification, substance abuse professionals receive specialized education and maintain key professional accreditations. Ongoing education is also needed. In other words, you can’t send your employee to just any drug or alcohol rehab center. It is always important to find a substance abuse professional who is approved by DOT.

Learn More About Addiction Treatment from Experience Recovery

Experience Recovery provides addiction treatment services to individuals throughout Orange County—and we are proud to work with those employees who need DOT-related care. If you’re an employer, and a member of your team fails a drug screening, we can help you ensure that the employee gets the right care to return to the job site.

We offer a full spectrum of clinical services, from detox to after care, and we tailor our programming to meet the individual needs of each client. To learn more about our return to work program, reach out to Experience Recovery today.