Types of Drug and Alcohol Testing Training: How to Choose the Right One for Your Workplace

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5 September 2023

Types of Drug and Alcohol Testing Training: How to Choose the Right One for Your Workplace

In 2017, 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 12 admitted to having used illicit drugs in the last thirty days. That number skyrockets to 1 in 4 for Americans aged 18-25. It’s an expensive habit that the National Institute on Drug Abuse says costs the nation over US $170 billion every year in additional health care utilization costs, lost productivity and crime. It’s especially costly for employers. Each year American employers lose up to $143 billion in costs related to drug abuse.

Education is as important a tool in combatting this issue as drug testing, and for employers with Department of Transportation (DOT) covered employees, it is the law. A strong drug and alcohol training program should include training for both your employees and your supervisors on recognizing the signs, effects and possible consequences of substance abuse in your workplace. (Learn more in What Is Reasonable Suspicion Training And Does Your Company Need It?)

There are a wide variety of options available from both training companies and drug testing firms. Whichever you choose, it should fit both the constraints of your particular workplace and your unique employee audience. This article will discuss a few of the options currently available for your drug and alcohol testing training.

Instructor-Led Training (In Class)

This is the traditional method for training and has a couple of distinct advantages. First, it is an immersive experience. With your employees gathered in a single classroom or auditorium for a defined amount of time, you can ensure they will not face any personal or professional distractions and can focus on learning. The classroom approach can also create a community of learning that encourages sharing and discussion. It gives your workers a voice and ensures they are able to learn from each other as well as from the instructor. All of this can enrich and expand the drug and alcohol content provided by the instructor, as people can share personal experiences and ask questions about things they’ve heard or witnessed.

This type of delivery can be a logistical challenge, though. Organizers must ensure everyone has the ability to attend the training, and this can include accommodation or transportation to and from the class. They must also arrange rooms, microphones and other technological aids, and, of course, provide qualified trainers. Another possible disadvantage is that instructor-led in-class training is often a one and done option that provides little opportunity to review or address gaps in knowledge.

Instructor-Led Training (On Site)

On site instructor-led training is an alternative to in-class training which brings the instructor to where your employees work. This alleviates some of the logistical challenges you can face in trying to organize in-class learning events, but it has some additional challenges of its own. For example, learning where you work can be off-putting and distracting for some workers. And, since drug and alcohol training can include some sensitive materials and scenarios, your workspace may not be the ideal place to hold it. Finally, some workplaces simply are not conducive to learning. Consider the ambiance, lighting, seating, noise, and comfort of your work site before you decide to host a learning event there.

Online Training

Online training can take the form of eLearning or webinars. Webinars are live, online instructor-led events, and while they do require employees to attend at a specific time and place, most provide a recording option that allows attendees or others to watch or review the webinar at a later date. Although you can enable microphones in some webinars, there is always a chat option. This allows workers to ask questions or seek clarification. The anonymity provided by the chat option is often successful for discussions of sensitive subjects like drug and alcohol abuse and testing.

A wide variety of other online training, from modules to games, are available and most have the benefit of being self-paced. Few of these options require definitive time and space and your workers are able to both work at their own pace and attend at a time that is convenient to them. Online training also allows workers to stop and start again easily and review concepts they didn’t understand fully the first time.

Both of these options require your workers to have access to a specific technology. Some employers have gotten around this challenge by supplying iPads or tablets in break rooms or by providing a mobile version of the training that employees can access on personal devices such as their phones.

Hybrid Training

Also known as blended learning, this type of training combines the best of online learning with face to face, instructor-led training. Typically, an instructor will introduce the training, answer questions and then direct participants to online activities, assignments or tests. Hybrid training allows your employees some control over pacing but also ensures an instructor is available to adequately assess their understanding and retention of concepts.

Which Type Of Training Is The Right Fit For Your Workplace?

When deciding on the type of drug and alcohol testing training you will offer at your workplace, you need to take into consideration your purpose, audience, and workplace. Is your purpose compliance or prevention? Or is your purpose simply to provide knowledge? Is your audience geographically or culturally diverse? Are language barriers an issue? Are time zones a factor? Are classrooms available in your workplace? Is technology available for eLearning? What does your workplace look like? Are your employees working remotely? Are they on the road? (Learn more in In-Person Workshops, Webinars or Online Training: How To Choose What's Best For Your Team's Mental Health Training)

Additional Features To Consider

In addition to the types of learning discussed above, there are additional enhancements you can include in your training program that help ensure your drug and alcohol training is both engaging and effective. They can also provide an opportunity to cement or test your employees' understanding of concepts. These enhancements can include:

  • Video training
  • Interactive training including roleplaying, demonstrations and simulations
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Group discussions
  • Case studies