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Serving the Chicagoland Area and Surrounding Suburbs

What Is a SAP?

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation 49 CFR Part 40 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.

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A SAP MUST be one of the following:

  • Licensed Physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
  • Licensed or Certified Social Worker
  • Licensed or Certified Psychologist
  • Licensed or Certified Employee Assistance Professional
  • State-Licensed or Certified Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Certified by:
    • The National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission (NAADAC)
    • The International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC)
    • The National Board of Certified Counselors, Inc. and Affiliates/Master Addictions Counselor (NBCC)

A SAP is not an advocate for an employer or employee. A SAP’s function is to protect the public’s safety by professionally evaluating the employee with a DOT violation and recommending appropriate education and/or treatment, follow-up tests, and aftercare. Recommendations are made to protect public safety in the event that the employee can return to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.

What Are the Steps Involved?

  1. Find a SAP provider either through an employer referral or through an online search
  2. Schedule an appointment for an evaluation by an approved SAP evaluator
  3. Attend the evaluation on time and bring any requested documentation
  4. Cooperate with the SAP evaluator by completing all required paperwork, screening tools, and answering all questions asked
  5. Follow through with any education and/or treatment recommendations
  6. Submit any completed education and/or treatment documents to the SAP evaluator
  7. Schedule a follow-up appointment with the SAP evaluator to review compliance or non-compliance of education and/or treatment recommendations to determine if you are ready to return to work
  8. Furnished with information from the education and/or treatment program, the SAP will conduct a face-to-face clinical interview with the employee to discuss the education and/or treatment effort, behavioral changes, and plans for continued treatment plan follow through as well as return-to-duty and follow-up testing issues.
  9. At this point, one of two things is possible: The SAP can determine that the employee has demonstrated successful compliance or that the employee has not done so.

SAP-DOT Risk Education and Outpatient Treatment

An employee MAY NOT do treatment with their SAP evaluator or with ANY facility where their SAP evaluator is affiliated. This prevents any conflict of interest. Following the evaluation, the SAP's referral for education/treatment should:


  • Be consistent with clinically evaluated employee needs
  • Take into consideration other stipulations such as employee insurance coverage, employee ability to pay for care, employer treatment contracts, employer policies regarding availability of leave for employees needing assistance, and availability of treatment and education programs
  • Be a quality program with qualified counselors

What Is the Follow-Up Process?

Following the treatment, the SAP evaluator must obtain information from the education and/or treatment program. The SAP will then conduct a face-to-face clinical interview with the employee to discuss the education and/or treatment effort, behavioral changes, and plans for continued treatment plan follow through as well as return-to-duty and follow-up testing issues.


At this point, one of two things is possible: The SAP can determine that the employee has demonstrated successful compliance or that the employee has not done so.


The SAP must present the employer a plan for follow-up testing. The SAP can re-evaluate the plan at any time and terminate the plan following its first year if all the required tests for the first year were completed. Testing is random and supervised and can last up to 60 months. The SAP will provide the employer with the recommended number of tests and the frequency of the tests.



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