7 Ways to Create an Effective Drug & Alcohol Testing Program

Your company wants to launch an effective drug and alcohol testing program. So what are some best practices it should follow?

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1. Provide employees with a clear and comprehensive written policy.

The policy is essentially your program's constitution—it outlines everything, including prohibited conduct and consequences the company will impose on employees who violate the policy. It should be clear, concise, and accessible by all members of your organization. A form acknowledging receipt of the policy should be signed by all employees upon hire and whenever changes are made to the policy.

Your policy should also conform to the state law in each of the locations in which your organization operates. In addition to ensuring compliance, this will also help your organization take advantage of workers' compensation rate discounts. Always be consistent when applying the policy. Inconsistencies and exceptions will get your organization into trouble—trouble that could result in costly fines, litigation, and poor workplace morale.  

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2. Regularly revisit the policy and update it as needed.

You should revisit the policy annually at the very least. Why? Things change, from state laws to situations within the organization itself. Ten years ago, no state allowed the recreational use of marijuana. Today, laws around marijuana are incredibly complex, with some states allowing medical use, others allowing recreational use, and still others "decriminalizing" personal use and possession in certain amounts, without providing full legalization.

3. Designate a program manager.

Employees will have questions, no matter how well written your alcohol and drug policy is. The program manager serves as a conduit between the employees and the program itself. As for whom you should identify as the program manager, this will vary depending on the organization and/or the industry. Someone from HR is often tasked with this position. If the organization is large enough, there might be two program managers—someone who manages the pre-employment drug-testing program and someone who manages the program for current employees.

4. Don't underestimate compliance.

It's impossible for one person or even one department, like HR, to keep up with all the complexities that compliance creates. And non-compliance could result in costly litigation and brand damage. Don't chance it. Work with a third party that can guide you, which brings us to our next point.

5. Choose reputable partners.

Vendor selection is important, whether you're opting to work with a national third-party administrator like Good Egg or if you're simply selecting local collection sites and laboratories.

Make sure you adequately vet the company you're working with and that it's qualified and capable to handle your business. That's important. They should have a solid understanding of the law and what you're trying to achieve. 

6. Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more.

In our experience, companies that run excellent programs all have this in common: they communicate really well with their people. They make sure all employees know about the program, and not simply during the initial rollout. They make sure the program remains top of mind by including updates in places where employees congregate (intranets, breakrooms) and through written communications, like company newsletters. They make sure employees have access to resources to get more info if they have questions. And they don't approach communication from an adversarial mindset ("if you do drugs, you'll lose your job!"). Rather, they share how everyone benefits from a drug-free workplace.

7. Provide Help to Those in Need

We know it can be challenging to find and hire great people. And sometimes, great people make mistakes. For those who have non-negative test results, offer help through a substance abuse professional and/or program to get your valuable employee back to work.

substance-abuse-recovery[Source: The Chicago Tribune]

This approach won't simply make you feel good—it works, too. The Chicago Tribune reports, "It's in an employer's interest to be proactive. Employees are more likely to undergo treatment if it is initiated by an employer, and those in recovery become better workers . . . Each employee who recovers from a substance abuse disorder saves a company more than $3,200 a year."

Need assistance creating an effective and compliant program for your organization? We'd love to help. Get in touch today.


Scott Mogensen

Posted by Scott Mogensen

Scott Mogensen manages the Drug and Alcohol testing program. He has 11 years of experience in drug and alcohol testing and is an expert in DOT drug & alcohol compliance issues. As a Certified Substance Abuse Program Administrator (C-SAPA), he holds the highest credentials available for a program administrator.

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