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SAP networks and resources.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a substance abuse professional (SAP) as a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare. In this role, the SAP advocates for neither the employer nor the employee; instead, the SAP's function is to protect the public interest in safety by preventing users of alcohol and controlled substances from performing transportation industry safety-sensitive functions.

To qualify to become a SAP, a person must earn certain credentials, possess specific knowledge, receive training, and achieve a passing score on an examination. After qualifying, a SAP must meet certain continuing education requirements. Only a licensed physician (doctor of medicine or osteopathy), licensed or certified social worker, licensed or certified psychologist, licensed or certified employee assistance professional, or an alcohol and drug abuse counselor certified by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC, formerly the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) or the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC) may become a SAP.

A person who becomes a SAP on or before Dec. 31, 2003, must receive qualification training before Jan. 1, 2004. This training must include the nine required components laid out in Section 281(c) of 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 40, the DOT regulation that defines SAP functions. These nine components are as follows:

(1) Background, rationale, and coverage of DOT's drug--and alcohol-testing program;

(2) 49 CFR Part 40 and DOT drug--and alcohol-testing rules;

(3) Key DOT drug-testing requirements, including collections, laboratory testing, medical review officer (MRO) review, and problems in drug testing;

(4) Key DOT alcohol-testing requirements, including the testing process, the role of (BATs) and (STTs), and problems in alcohol tests;

(5) SAP qualifications and prohibitions;

(6) The role of the SAP in the return-to-duty process, including the initial employee evaluation, referrals for education and/or treatment, the follow-up evaluation, continuing treatment recommendations, and the follow-up testing plan;

(7) SAP consultation and communication with employers, MROs, and treatment providers;

(8) Reporting and recordkeeping requirements; and

(9) Issues that confront SAPs in carrying out their duties under the program.

Several organizations, including the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), offer SAP qualification training. EAPA also offers the SAP examination, as does NAADAC. For contact information, see the accompanying list of resources.


The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) was established in 1992 to expand the availability of effective treatment and recovery services for alcohol and drug problems. CSAT initiatives and programs are based on research findings and the general consensus of experts in the addiction field that, for most individuals, treatment and recovery work best in a community-based, coordinated system of comprehensive services. For information about CSAT programs, call (301) 443-8958 or visit

The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), which represents more than 5,000 members who staff employee assistance programs and provide employee assistance services, offers SAP qualification training through its Professional Development Institute. EAPA also offers the SAP examination in an on-line format. For information, call (703) 387-1000 ext. 315 or visit the EAPA Web site at

The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC, formerly the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) bills itself as the largest network of alcoholism and drug abuse treatment professionals in the United States. NAADAC administers several education and certification programs and offers both SAP qualification training and the SAP examination. Contact NAADAC by calling 1-800-548-0497 or visiting the NAADAC Web site at

The Substance Abuse Program Administrator's Association (SAPAA), which represents owners and managers of private substance abuse testing firms, directors of substance abuse programs in the corporate sector, coordinators of substance abuse programs in medical facilities, and representatives of testing laboratories and other service providers, establishes quality standards for the administration of workplace substance abuse programs. To contact SAPAA, call (301) 540-2783 or visit
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Title Annotation:Resource Spotlight
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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