Reasons why substance addiction screening is important in the workplace

It’s nothing new for some people to misuse substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs. Nonetheless, there has been an increasing acceptance that substance abuse and substance use can affect the workplace and vice versa. There are many aspects of the workplace that require alertness, accuracy, and quick reactions.

Impaired performance of these skills can lead to errors and hinder efficiency and accuracy.

There are several ways problematic substance use can impact the workplace:

  • Any impairment of judgment, alertness, perception, motor coordination, or emotional state that also affects someone’s capability to work safely or make safety-sensitive decisions
  • Addiction and its after-effects (hangovers, withdrawals) affect job performance.
  • Reduced productivity due to absences, illness, or other reasons
  • While at work, excessive interest in obtaining and using substances hinders concentration and attention.
  • Engaging in illegal activities at work, such as selling illicit drugs,
  • Substance-related psychological or stress-related effects on another person are caused by a family member, friend, or coworker.

In addition to often being classified as an addiction or dependency, substance use can be recreational, frequent, or problematic. As a result, people’s lives and their work are affected differently. 

NCADI statistics indicate that alcohol and drug users:

  • Have a poorer level of productivity.
  • Increase sick days by three times.
  • Possess a greater likelihood of injuring themselves or another person.
  • The possibility of filing a worker’s compensation claim is five times higher.

Among heavy drinkers and drug users, nine percent missed work due to a hangover, ten percent went to work drunk or high in the past year, and eleven percent missed work recently due to heavy drinking or drug use.

Substance use screening in the workplace is important due to these costly consequences. 

What is substance addiction screening?

Screening is the process of determining if a patient has a particular condition through applying a simple test. During a primary care visit, it is essential to determine the specific problem. 

For the screening to be valid, these conditions must be fulfilled. They are: 

  • The population at large must be affected by the disease.
  • It must reduce the quality or duration of life.
  • Treatments should be available that reduce mortality and morbidity when given during asymptomatic stages of the disease.
  • It should be detectable through a cost-effective screening service earlier than without screening and avoid false positives or false negatives in large numbers.
  • It must be diagnosed and treated early enough to delay or halt disease progression.

Screening for substance abuse is intended to identify individuals who suffer from or are at risk of suffering from alcohol or drug abuse. Based on these findings, we identify those patients who need further testing to diagnose their substance abuse disorder and develop plans to treat it.

The benefit of conducting substance abuse screenings at regular intervals in primary care is that you can follow up positive screens at later visits. Clinicians often conduct preliminary assessments, also known as brief assessments, due to their long-standing relationships with patients.

Suppose the clinician has the experience and training required and resources available within the community. In that case, he may devise a treatment plan or refer the patient to a drug specialist for assessment. 

When provider-patient relationships are not as close in larger practices or clinics, clear documentation of screening results can help ensure appropriate follow-up.

It is also important to discuss negative screenings for substance abuse. As clinicians, they enable them to reinforce the wisdom of abstaining from drugs and maintaining safe levels of alcohol consumption by strengthening the knowledge of abstinence.

In addition, the clinician can give patients written information on alcohol or the effects of the drug if she does not have the time (or the expertise) to talk face-to-face.


During the screening, a simple test is applied to determine if the patient is suffering from the condition in question. Screening for substance abuse aims to identify individuals who have or may develop substance abuse problems, and from within that group to identify patients who need further assessment to diagnose their addiction problems and develop treatment plans. 

It is important to go for substance addiction screening and the following points would address that;


Includes behavior therapy – a type of psychotherapy – which can be provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Individual therapy and counseling can be provided to individuals, families, or groups. Therapists and counselors can assist with the following:

· Work with you to develop coping skills for dealing with your drug cravings

· Plan ways to avoid drugs and relapses

· If relapses do occur, suggest how to handle them Discuss issues regarding your job, legal problems, and relationships with family and friends

· Discuss other mental health issues


Self-help support groups emphasize that addiction is a chronic disease that can lead to relapse. Groups that support self-help can help decrease the sense of shame and isolation that can lead to relapse.

Find out where you can find self-help support groups with the help of your therapist or counselor. You may also find support groups in your community or on the internet.


In detoxification, also called withdrawal therapy or detoxification, the goal is to enable you to stop taking the drug as safely and quickly as possible. During withdrawal therapy, it may be safe for some people to undergo outpatient treatment. Hospitalization or a residential treatment center may be required for others.


This is very necessary as it helps to ascertain that the patient is improving and to help prevent relapse. During these checkups, the patients receive some important tips from the doctor which also makes their recovery process fast and easy.


The definition of substance abuse may simply be described as isolating oneself from the environment through the harmful use of a substance. In addition to alcohol and drugs (illegal or not), some substances are not drugs at all. 

Below are 20 self-assessment questions to ask a substance addict;

  1. What is your average frequency of using drugs that are not prescribed by your doctor or at higher doses than is recommended?
  2. Are you ever affected by medical conditions such as seizures, flashbacks, and blackouts that are linked to your drug use (in your opinion)?
  3. When you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, did you ever feel guilty or ashamed about your behavior?
  4. Are you losing interest in other activities or noticing a decrease in your passion as a result of using or drinking?
  5. After drinking a lot or using or not using for a while, have you ever experienced shakes or trembling?
  6. Have you ever had a drug or alcohol-induced “blackout” or a time you can’t remember?
  7. Despite friends or family suggesting you stop; do you continue to consume alcohol or drugs?
  8. When you tried to limit or control your consumption, did you try different drinks or drugs or change your usage patterns?
  9. Does anyone ever suggest you quit using drugs or alcohol?
  10. In the last year, how often did you abuse prescription drugs prescribed to you by your doctor?
  11. What financial, legal, or marital issues have you experienced because of your use?
  12. Are you sneaky about your use or do you hide it?
  13. Is it uncomfortable for you sometimes if you don’t have access to alcohol or your drug?
  14. Are you an alone user or drinker?
  15. Is it easier for you now to drink more and use more without feeling it, compared to when you first tried it?
  16. Under pressure, anger, or depression, do you drink more than usual?
  17. Do you have a job in danger because of drinking or using?
  18. What time of day do you want to drink or use?
  19. Have you suffered from illnesses such as nausea, vomiting, or paranoia because of your drinking or drug use?
  20. How difficult is it to have fun without drugs or alcohol?

Training for Drug and Alcohol Screening and Testing

Both drugs and alcohol can impair a person’s physical and mental alertness, cause long-term health issues, and lead to unsafe situations.  To avoid any unforeseen problems due to the use of these substances, many employers strive for a drug-free workplace which includes testing current or potential employees.

Alcohol testing involves determining the concentration of alcohol in the test subject’s breath, saliva, or blood. This measure of concentration is then used to determine the alcohol level.

Drug testing refers to any analysis of a biological sample for traces of drugs or their metabolites. Drug tests may be conducted using urine, breath, hair, saliva, sweat, and blood.

The Drug & Alcohol Testing Association of Canada (DATAC) develops standardized courses for those interested to work for the Canadian drug and alcohol testing industry.

Overview of Drug and Alcohol Testing Online Training

Certified Specimen Collector (CSC):

This course covers collection of samples or specimen from people for testing levels of drugs or alcohol in their system. The training includes a range of work such as collecting, processing, and interpreting results from urine, oral fluid, and hair specimens.

It is designed for the Canadian drug testing industry. In addition to sample collection procedures, the course also includes on-site as well as point-of-care testing by means of in-vitro diagnostic devices.

Certified DOT Specimen Collector (CDSC)

Complementing the CSC course, the Certified DOT Specimen Collector is specifically geared to certify students to work in the United States Department of Transportation’s workplace drug testing by complying to the federally regulated procedures in America.

It also provides an understanding on how to perform U.S. regulated drug testing in Canada.

Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) DOT Compliant

This is a course that covers training for both alcohol screening and confirmation testing procedures. It is in line with the requirements of United States Department of Transportation.

Students taking the Breath and Alcohol Technician course will learn the policies, regulations, and procedures about alcohol screening. They will learn all the requirements for screening through breath and oral fluid tests. Practice opportunities include mock proficiency testing through webcam.

Screening Test Technician (STT) DOT Compliant

This course covers is also compliant with the requirements of the United States Department of Transportation.

Candidates will learn different aspects of alcohol screening. The training includes procedures for both breath and oral fluid screening. They will review policies, regulations, and procedures relevant to alcohol screening and will be able to use any approved screening device.

For more information refer to

Addiction Self-Assessment Tool For Screeing

When a person is addicted to alcohol, they could lose control over when and how much they drink. Then, when they are sober and realize, they start to feel bad or keep drinking to avoid guilty feelings.

Some people realize early they might have an addiction problem and take action. There are millions of who became addicts but took charge of their lives, sought treatment, and returned to happy and productive lives. Realizing early on gives a much better chance for a full recovery. Addiction assessment tests and tools are helpful for this.

If you are wondering whether you or a loved on has an issue with substance abuse, or a possible alcohol addiction, you can use one of several addiction assessment tools. These addiction assessments are designed to help you understand if you or your loved one possibly has a substance abuse problem or addiction. However, they are not meant to give a precise diagnosis.

So, after using such a tool, if you suspect possible addiction, you must do a follow up by seeking a professional assessment.

CAGE Questionnaire is an example of such self-assessment tool:

CAGE” is an acronym formed from the italicized words in the questionnaire (cut-annoyed-guilty-eye). The CAGE is a simple screening questionnaire to identify potential problems with alcohol. This test is a globally recognized addiction assessment method to check for possible drug and alcohol dependence.

Each question requires a simple yes or no answer. Here are the 4 questions in the test:

  1. Have you felt you ought to Cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking or drug use?
  3. Have you felt bad or Guilty about your drinking or drug use?
  4. Have you ever had a drink or used drugs first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (Eye-opener)?

If a person answered “yes” to two or more of the 4 questions above, it suggests they may have a problem with substance abuse or addiction.

Out of the 4 questions, number 4 is considered most important. A positive answer to this question is a strong indicator that there might be a dangerous dependence.

After answering the questions, if you or your loved one find that there might be a problem, please seek immediate help.

Treatment can vary from individual or group counseling, to medications, to an outpatient therapy program, to an inpatient stay. No matter how serious the issue might appear, timely treatment can make a difference.

It is always the best option to seek help as soon as possible.

For more information refer to Substance Use Screening & Assessment Instruments Database:


Screening for the presence of Alcohol and other Drugs (AOD) is increasingly important in the workplace as the impact of improper alcohol and other recreational drug use can present a serious risk to health, safety and workplace productivity.
Implementing a robust screening program supported by a strong company drug and alcohol policy and workplace education program can add to a positive health, safe and productive workplace culture.
As a statutory requirement in many industries, effective drug and alcohol screening improves workplace safety as the use of alcohol and recreational drugs can present a hazard in the workplace.
Recently, as part of the application process, job applicants may be required to be screened for drug and alcohol use. Depending on state law and company policy, employers may do this prior to making a job offer. Employees may be tested for drugs or alcohol in the workplace, where permitted by state law.
There are a variety of employment-related drug and alcohol tests used by employers. The types of drug test that show the presence of drugs or alcohol include urine drug tests, blood drug tests, breath alcohol tests, saliva drug screens, and sweat drug screens.
There are federal and state laws which provide guidelines on the policies employers can set regarding substance abuse in the workplace. Employers can prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol, test for drug use, and fire employees who are engaging in illegal drug abuse. However, employees with substance abuse issues are protected by federal and state laws regulating discrimination and disabilities.
A urine drug test is the most commonly used test when job applicants or employees are screened for illegal drugs or alcohol use. Urinalysis shows the presence of drug residues that remain in the body after the effects of the drug have worn off. Urine tests may be required as part of pre-employment screening or may be conducted randomly by employers, especially for employees in certain occupation.
A number of workplace studies measuring the accident rates of companies before and after implementing drug testing indicate that drug screening is indeed an important safety factor. Not only do employees want a safe working environment, they also want a workplace that is productive, where every employee is performing his or her job safely and competently. That is, it further ensures the hiring of a more effective work force.
In addition to accident rates falling, absenteeism, tardiness, employee theft and behavioural problems typically decrease with the implementation and maintenance of drug screening. As a matter of fact, Businesses that do not drug test employees can attract candidates who cannot obtain employment elsewhere because of substance abuse.