What qualifications are needed to become a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)?


What qualifications are needed to become a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)?


A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who works in between an employer and employee, with the goal of finding a solution to stop substance abuse in the workplace. They require special training to become certified and ongoing education to retain their status as an SAP. Their certification allows them to work closely with an employee to help them overcome drug and/or alcohol addictions.

A SAP acts as a neutral person in between the employer and employee. Their focus is on professionally evaluating the employee and providing recommendations for education, treatment, follow ups and after care. Ultimately, their job is to help the employee overcome addictions with the overarching interest of public safety.

The training and certification program to become a SAP is not open to everyone. A person wishing to train as an SAP must already have one of the following qualifications:

  • Licensed physician (either a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy)
  • Licensed or certified social worker, psychologist or employee assistance professional
  • State licensed or certified family and marriage therapist
  • Alcohol and drug abuse counselor who has been certified by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission (NAADAC), or by the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC), or by the National Board of Certified Counsellors, Inc. and Affiliates/Master Addictions Counsellor (NBCC)

SAPs are also required to have a minimal base level of knowledge and experience which includes:

  • Clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse disorders
  • An understanding of how the role of an SAP relates to the responsibilities that employers have for ensuring the safety of the public in relation to travel and transportation
  • Solid foundational knowledge of Department of Transportation (DOT) Rule 49 Part 40 regarding DOT regulations and any changes that may occur to them, or to SAP guidelines

Find out more about SAPs and how they are a vital part of making your drug testing program work.

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