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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS                                                             


What are some of the signs that indicate that someone is impaired at work? 

●      Excessive sick leave


●      Frequent early departures


●      Patterns of absenteeism (Mondays, Fridays)


●      Extended coffee breaks


●      Excessive time on the phone


●      Low productivity


●      Poor quality of work


●      Loss of concentration


●      Inability to make decisions


●      Resistance to authority


●      Impatient


●      Violent


●      Sleepiness


● Argumentative


● Uncooperative


● Misuse of equipment


● Poor personal hygiene


● Unusual weight loss or gain


● Dilated pupils


● Cold, sweaty palms


● Unsteady movements and shaky hands


● Irritability


● Depressed


● Withdrawn


● Suspicious


● Excessively talkative


● Behavior changes after lunch or breaks



What do I do if I smell alcohol or see signs of impairment in an employee or attorney?


  • Let the employee know that an inappropriate odor is noticeable and that their behavior is different and of concern.  Let your HR representative know so that they can further discuss with the employee and assess whether further help is needed.  


What are the different treatments available for substance abuse?


  • Residential/Inpatient: Clients live in a facility which is monitored 24 hours a day. It is the most structured and intensive treatment modality.


  • Partial Hospitalization Program: Clients live at home while attending treatment in a facility for about 20 hours a week. This is usually a program that provides treatment five days a week for about four hours each day.


  • Intensive Outpatient: Clients live at home while attending treatment in a facility for at least 9 hours a week. This is usually a program that provides treatment 3-4 days a week for about 3 hours each day.


  • Outpatient: Clients see a professional in the community once or twice a week. This is the least intensive program.


If someone enters substance abuse treatment at a residential facility, how long can I expect for them to be out?


  • The length of time in a residential facility varies depending on the client. The average length of stay is probably between 30-45 days. Research indicates that 90 days in treatment may be most effective. This can be a combination of different modalities.


How do I handle their return to work?


  • It is important for a human resource representative to have contact with the treatment center in order to ensure that all recommendations are being followed and that the employee's return to work is recommended at that particular time.  In order to have access to this information, the employee must sign a release of information that allows the employer to know this information only, while respecting their privacy on other treatment issues.   This release should be obtained upon their entry into treatment as it will enable the employer to find out if treatment was completed successfully, what recommendations were made and if the employee should return to work.   Meet with the employee to discuss their needs upon return.  This may have to due with adjustments to their schedule and how to handle dealing with other coworkers. Addressing expectations at this point is essential while also recognizing their own individual challenges.


What kinds of requests should I expect from the employee returning from treatment?


  • It is important to note how vulnerable an employee may be upon returning to work after an intensive treatment.  Many treatment centers strongly encourage attendance at support group meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Being able to accommodate an employee's schedule at work to accommodate his attendance to these support group meetings can be very helpful to ensure better self care.  Addressing responsibilities and any deviations is also important to make sure both the employer and employee have a clear understanding of what is expected.

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