Substance Abuse Tool Box Talk 3

We discussed in Toolbox Talk 2 the initial steps a person can take to get help from the hold of alcohol and drug abuse. Coming forward prior to being declared ineligible would be a great first step, and hopefully avoid an unnecessary physical and emotional injury to the abuser, co-workers, or family members. In this third toolbox talk, we will talk about addiction, the road to recovery, and the return-to-work process. We will also provide a history on the evolution of the 12-Step Programs and how that history provides a link
to the recovery process.

A person who has been diagnosed with an addiction and successfully completed rehabilitation will be in recovery for life. Folks in recovery live day to day striving to remain sober. Recovery requires an individual to change their lifestyle and friends. Recovery requires affirmation and peer group assistance. Those in recovery need the help of others in recovery as well as assist others in recovery to remain sober. As a coworker or Supervisor, understanding the recovery process is important.

You may need to encourage and or arrange schedules so that a fellow worker can find the attention they need to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (or other support groups). To understand addiction, let’s examine the Progression and Recovery of the Alcoholic.

Four stages of one model, the Jellinek Curve are: the beginning of the disease, the bottoming out, rehabilitation, and the recovery. Addiction starts with the building up of tolerance of a drug. Basically, that means that the individual needs more of a drug or to take it more often to feel “normal.” As the progression continues, behaviors begin to change or surface – social interactions, financial situations, and workplace behaviors begin to manifest possible problems.

The Crucial Phase begins with occasionally using a substance for relief to building up a tolerance (need more for the same affect) to eventually losing interest in other things. To recognize signs or observe behaviors that identify possible problems at this early stage increases the opportunity for a successful intervention. As the disease model progresses, the individual becomes dependent. The dependent person values taking a drug or consuming alcohol over social activities and/or eating and/or taking care of oneself.

Through the Chronic Phase, physical, emotional, and psychological behaviors become dysfunctional. The dependent individual is out of control – the substance is controlling him/her. The first step to Rehabilitation often requires a significant event or happening. The individual must have an honest desire to get help. Through the process, the individual learns about the disease and begins to understand the process. There iscomplete abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The individual meets people who are “normal” and no longer abuse. Understanding the value of sobriety begins and the individual is in recovery. Recovery is a “forever and ever” process. Often, it is the first time the individual feels normal and begins to appreciate every part of their life. They have experienced a rebirth of life and ideals. Everything about their life begins to improve. Through the recovery process, individuals continue to rely on support groups. They need to affirm to themselves daily that they are on the right path. It will truly be one day at a time for the rest of their lives.

Individuals who have lost eligibility in CISAP must seek professional assistance in order to return to work. As mentioned in Toolbox Talk #2, the participant will need to meet with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). The SAP will assign a treatment plan. Treatment plans vary and in most cases are completed via outpatient services, and may include mandatory attendance at AA or NA meetings. Once a treatment plan is completed or the SAP has designated an individual fit for duty, a return to duty test is required. The individual participant can arrange a drug test with Mobile Medical Corporation (MMC) and will be charged $50 for the test. MMC works with the individual and their union to assist in the return-to-work process.

Individuals who have experienced addiction and have successfully managed their lives in recovery are good workers. They have placed a high value on their sobriety and now understand responsibilities completely. They are energized by positive reinforcement and the ability to work encourages them through recovery. They often times will become your most valuable worker or co-worker. They do not ask for favors – just the opportunity to experience life completely as a sober person.

If You Have More Questions, Contact:
■ Your Designated Employee Representative
■ Company Supervisors