Employee Assistance Drug Programs — Be Careful What You Disclose

This blog shall focus on the new phenomenon of employment assistance (EAP”) programs. Employee/professionals are introduced to these programs in the context of positive drug tests in the work place. The extent of self-disclosure and participation within these programs has become a source of information for licensing board investigators and PHMP programs. Participant disclosure in EAPs of drug use or mental health history could be discovered by board investigators and backfire against the professional.

Initially, some employers require the employee/licensee to report to their licensing board the positive drug test result and enrollment in the EAP.  This Blog especially applies to you.  Board investigators will seek out and secure release of your EAP case worker files, notes, and treatment facility disclosures even if there is no licensure reporting requirement.  Do not assume your board will not discover your EAP enrollment.

As such, the issue is to what extent must you disclosure to a EAP case worker.  What is complete self disclosure? What is complete? Does an employee need to release to the EAP: 1)medical records, 2) psychological or psychiatric treatment records, or 3) provide full self disclosure of prior recreational or adolescent drug use? Disclosure versus signing medical authorizations are two separate things. Never sign medical releases for any, any, any, any prior treatment history.

Sometimes, the EAP program is administered at a local treatment? To whom are you the employee/licensee disclosing prior drug use? What are treatment facilities’ legal obligations of disclosure to the state? Some treatment facilities, if they know a EAP participant is a licensed professional, will administer a different treatment program and protocol that are aligned with the PHMP. Here especially, do not sign blanket medical releases.  Also, make sure all disclosure, if you make them, are completely confidential with no right of dissemination by the EAP (within the treatment facility) to any one.

The professional should not lightly enter a EAP. The professional should not voluntarily disclose or sign releases for medical, psychiatric, or drug use histories in these programs. Again, what is complete and to whom is the licensee disclosing a history? All information given to the EAP will be available to the professional board investigator. Thereafter, PHMP caseworkers will seek to secure statements and information in EAP case worker possession. The PHMP investigator and PNAP caseworker will seek to corroborate facts given to them versus the EAP.

Consequently, disclosure in an EAP of historical drug, alcohol, or medical histories not necessary to EAP participation and employment retention may result in further treatment and license requirements. One doesn’t necessarily have to “drink the Kool-Aid” or be “all in” in the EAP program to maintain employment. It is the factual disclosures in the EAP program that PHMP caseworkers will used against the licensee in the future.

As my prior blogs state, the licensee must be very careful about the decision to go enter the PHMP. Don’t be scared into the program by the caseworker and the various letters of concern that they send out. Unless one is ready willing and able to admit a drug or alcohol addiction which has rendered you incapable of practicing your profession safely, statements to PHMP, PMP, PNAP, PHARC or any other licensing board drug and alcohol investigator should be severely curtailed.

Attempting to save one’s job by going into an EAP as a result of violating drug and alcohol procedures, protocols (of which the employment-based disciplinary rules, procedures, and manuals are ripe with regulations regarding the use of drugs) could end up causing you the professional their license. Call me to discuss.

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