“I’m Stuck with You”–A Caution to Guardians

By | Guardians | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Children of addicts are often raised by grandparents or other family members, single parents, etc., as a result of active addiction. This can be a challenging and often painful reality for both guardians and the children affected. Confusion and constant questioning often surface quickly with children of addicts, once addicted parents are temporarily or permanently removed from their lives. All too often, guardians are not properly equipped with information or education about addiction and sometimes lack communication skills or the ability to carefully confront the delicate issue with honest explanations.

This combination of potentially overwhelming experiences can try even the kindest heart and potentially turn the best of intentions into an innocent child’s worst nightmare. As such, it is necessary for guardians to take a personal inventory, gain self-awareness, practice self-care and get professional help for themselves and the child, if necessary. Because, though the experience and responsibility of raising someone else’s child coupled with the resulting added stress, concern and frustration can wear a guardian down, patience and complete compassion are the guardian’s responsibility.

Remember, children—regardless of circumstance—require more than just food, shelter and clothing to survive. They need emotional and physical safety, love and belonging and self-esteem to thrive. Taking on the responsibility of a child implies the added accountability for providing those key elements, as well. With regard to children of addicts, the degree to which those components are needed is critical.

In essence, children of addicts have already been and currently are grieving the living. As such, they generally already lack a great deal of their basic physical and emotional human needs. Therefore, they will likely act out in response to that reality and throughout various stages of their ongoing grief process.

The latter possibility depends greatly on their age and development, but it is important to remember children of addicts often experience stunted development. This results from their experiences of living with an active addict. Additionally, the emotional trauma of losing a parent to active addiction negatively affects the development process.

As such, it is very important for guardians—temporary or permanent—of children of addicts to express gratitude for the privilege to raise the child, rather than making disparaging comments during moments of frustration. Guardians must remember, making hurtful statements—with or without negative intentions—about the effects of addiction that imply the child is a burden only worsen the child’s suffering and potentially result in the progression of any existing emotional/behavioral issues.

Moreover, guardians of children of addicts need to keep in mind, the children are already struggling a great deal, feel burdensome, abandoned and confused. It is vital for guardians to know what to say to these children to explain the situation, how to get help for them and how to ensure they do not feel like burdens or unwanted in any way.

If you are a guardian of a child of an addict and have questions or need further information, call our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP

Progress, Not Perfection–Learning to be Patient with the Process of Recovery

By | Progress, Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

When recovering from any traumatic injury, individuals and family members are often encouraged to be patient with the healing process. Doctors realize the time it takes the body to recover from injury. Additionally, assistance and added recovery time may be required in regaining balance and coordination, rehabilitating motor skills and the body’s abilities in an effort to return to normal functioning. As such, the degree of injury and trauma determines the duration of time needed to recover.

Moreover, though a patient’s prognosis may be an expected full recovery, the individual is never quite the same. The trauma of the incident, the specific organs, muscles or bones affected, a near-death experience, resulting emotions involved in a realization of immortality or even a shift in perspective with regard to physical health and priorities can change a person forever. Due to this, though the physical body may heal superficially relatively quickly, the mental, psychological and spiritual aspects of the self as well as any resulting physical changes can often require a lifetime of recovery.

With regard to traumatic injuries, throughout the acute and long-term recovery processes, there is support from medical professionals—doctors, nurses, physical therapists and so on—constantly encouraging healing and ideally offering compassion while reminding the individual to practice patience and focus on the progress rather than the setbacks. The idea is to keep in mind what the body has been through, take time to be grateful for mere survival and to accept the new normal for however long the body requires it. Again, medical professionals are typically aware and often advise patients there is no set time in which the body heals from any injury, surgery or illness; only estimations based on averages.

All of the aforementioned is also true with regard to the process of recovery from addiction. The disease itself is a traumatic injury to the body, mind and soul. As such, recovering individuals and their families must all be informed and supported through the healing process. Patience is required from everyone involved. But, in an effort to prevent relapse, it is absolutely necessary for the recovering individual to practice it, constantly.

Equally as vital to successful recovery is the understanding that recovery from addiction is a lifetime process. The physical damage incurred may remedy itself rather quickly. Conversely, it may be irreversible and require strict lifestyle changes—more extensive than mere sobriety—to prolong life. Regardless of the resulting physical health of any addict, the recovery process does require a shift in perspective; one from quantity to quality of life. The latter is the reason support groups, sponsors, counselors, addiction specialists and other helping professionals are in place to address the unseen injuries resulting from and inflicted prior to the disease in a continuum of care spanning the individual’s life.

There is a need to practice patience with the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological recovery from any disease and addiction is no exception. Too often, recovering addicts get caught up in trying to do everything right. This typically sets individuals up for feelings of failure and can easily lead to relapse. Therefore, It is very important for recovering addicts to celebrate survival and their healing and recovery achievements, regardless of how big or small, just as they typically honor their days of sobriety. Just as with recovery from any traumatic injury, surgery or disease, successful recovery from addiction is about making progress, not striving for perfection.

The Role of Addiction in Disease

By | Addiction and Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A

Through scientific methods, we as a society have proven addiction is a disease. Though specific political, religious or otherwise conservative groups and individuals may continue to utilize the moral model to explain, address or attempt to remedy it, the general population has seemingly come to at least accept the terminology of addiction as a disease. The latter may be simply due to the growing and insurmountable number of people struggling with or negatively affected by it and therefore seeking to recover and understand. Regardless of the reasoning, the majority of individuals who have experienced or been directly exposed to addiction recognize the progressive, chronic and potentially fatal nature of it.

Helping professionals often look to diabetes, cancer or other diseases to explain the advancing stages of addiction, potential for relapse and the need for life changes as well as multi-option or integrative care to treat it. However, rarely do medical experts look to addiction to explain other diseases. Addiction specialists typically view addiction as an acute physical symptom of a much deeper emotional/spiritual issue. Yet, only a small portion of the population sees cancer, diabetes or any other disease as a physical manifestation of an unresolved emotional or spiritual struggle.

Unlike other diseases, once a professional or self-diagnosis of addiction is received, and treatment is sought, a holistic approach is usually taken. Initially, physical detoxification—ideally medically supervised—begins the process of recovery from the disease. It is the first of many vital steps. And, generally speaking, addiction professionals are aware that relapse is imminent if detox is the only step taken to address addiction.

Moreover, detox alone often proves fatal due to the fact that the body drops its tolerance to the substance and therefore cannot handle the amount once used by the addicted individual. As such, when and if relapse occurs, the amount of substance used which was easily tolerated by the addict’s body prior to detox is now a fatal dose. For this reason and the fact that science has proven addiction to be more than a simple choice, successful recovery typically requires a month of residential treatment during which the diagnosed individual works with a team of addiction treatment specialists to address the holistic nature of the disease.

Regardless of the process, whether a 12-Step program is preferred or not, the addicted individual is encouraged and directed to address emotional or psychological and spiritual aspects of the self while medical professionals, nutrition specialists, etc., tend to the physiological components. Often, life or recovery coaches, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists and other necessary members of the holistic recovery team are brought on board to assist in the individual’s complete and continued recovery from addiction.

And, also generally unlike other diseases, the diagnosed individual is instructed to continue the spiritual and psychological growth process along with maintaining their physiological health via attending support groups, connection to sponsors, counselors, life coaches and/or social workers who hold them accountable for their own recovery process. These individuals are ideally supported through a continuum of care which follows the lifespan of their recovery. This typically presents by way of sober housing, collegiate recovery and other sober communities and programs designed to prevent relapse.

Additionally, numerous outpatient treatment options are offered in case of relapse to help restore physiological, psychological and spiritual balance and steer the individual away from self-destruction and back onto a path of personal growth and empowerment. The latter is typically considered key to successful recovery due to the fact that much of the healing required to completely abstain from substances or maintain moderation or balance within behavioral processes lies not solely within the chemical dependency or biological changes which developed throughout various degrees of substance abuse or behavioral compulsions. Conversely, successful recovery from the disease of addiction requires a holistic healing of the body, mind and soul.

Could it be that the same can be said for cancer? Diabetes? Or any other disease? Is it possible addiction research and specialists have worked so hard to successfully prove addiction as a disease and inadvertently discovered the answer to healing and recovery from all disease? If nothing else, it’s food for thought.

Loving Your Kids to Death: The Hard Truth About the Role of Parenting in Addiction

By | Parenting | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Individuals who struggle with addiction often look for people or circumstances to blame for their situation. Active addiction requires denial of a problem and lack of complete accountability. Therefore, those who are active in the disease typically deny personal responsibility and blame family—dysfunctional or not—spouses or significant others, work or lack thereof, stress, etc., for their substance abuse.

Of course, any good treatment counselor will challenge the idea that factors outside an individual’s control force them to use and abuse substances. In fact, individuals in recovery are typically well-versed in the concept of internal locus of control—the notion that each person is in control of their own behaviors and choices regardless of external factors or circumstances. Yet, there is some validity to the suggestion that parenting plays a significant role in active addiction, and it’s a truth that may be hard to swallow.

Parenting is a challenge regardless of circumstance. However, when your kid is an addict, the parent role can become a confusing one. It is difficult to know what to do, how to help or if you can assist in any way at all. Of course, there’s also the potential to question whether mistakes or lapses in parenting were to blame for the onset of the disease in the first place.

With regard to the latter, the answer is a resounding no. Though accountability is a character trait everyone should possess, there is never a reason nor is it healthy to be over-responsible—accepting accountability for personal behaviors and for the choices of others as well. Every individual, including parents, has free will and therefore possesses the ability to choose their actions and reactions in any given circumstance.

However, parents often make one drastic error which can contribute to the onset of substance abuse, active addiction and certainly enable the progression of the disease. In simple terms and according to Dr. Carl Andersen, Founder of the Center for the Study of Addiction & Recovery at Texas Tech University, this potentially fatal mistake is known as the perversion of parenting—the idea that a parent’s job is to raise a happy child. Ideally and conversely, a parent’s task is to launch a healthy adult; a distinction which becomes quite clear in the face of active addiction.

When parents confuse their role and seek to keep their children happy, they do not set needed boundaries, impose necessary structure, hold their kids accountable by enforcing rules, providing consequences or following through with verbal contracts regarding negative choices and resulting repercussions. Therefore, these parents deny their children the ability to grow, gain emotional maturity, learn and master interpersonal relationship and life skills and acquire personal responsibility. Additionally, this passive or lenient style of parenting teaches entitlement, developmentally stunts and emotionally handicaps kids. The resulting lack of ability to appropriately cope with the ebb and flow of life can easily lead to negative reactions and self-sabotaging behaviors including but not limited to substance abuse.

As substance abuse progresses into the disease of addiction, these resulting character flaws advance accordingly as well. Manipulation, victimization, distortion, denial of accountability, blame, etc., all become amplified and utilized as means of defending and perpetuating the disease. Unfortunately and all too often, parents continue striving to return their child to a happy state by submitting to their will and supplying wants and necessities—clothing, shelter, food and money.

The latter prevents negative consequences from occurring often enough or lasting the duration needed to provide the active addict with a desperate desire to change. In other words, these parents offer the safety net which catches their addicted kids just prior to hitting rock bottom—the place active addicts need to be in order to contemplate the need for professional help. And, sadly, this cycle of rescue and repeat has devastating effects on the parents and ultimately results in the active addict’s demise.

In this way, it is quite possible for parents to literally love their kids to death. As such, it is vital for parents—especially those with kids in active addiction or recovery—to constantly remind themselves of their sole task; to launch a healthy adult. This requires they teach their children personal boundaries, cause and effect, accountability, communication, conflict resolution and other interpersonal and life skills without regard for the child’s happiness or gaining popularity as a parent. Additionally, focusing on this task will prevent codependency and ensure the distinction between love, enabling and ultimately life and death.


Distortion, Denial and the Truth About Active Addiction’s Most Powerful Body Guards

By | Addiction and Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Individuals with active addiction often become very defensive when confronted—even carefully—about their drinking or drug problem. In fact, many react with extreme emotional outbursts, as though someone has threatened their best friend or a beloved family member. The truth is, to an active addict, anyone attempting to confront the reality of their addiction is in fact bullying their closest friend.

An active addict’s drug of choice is not simply a substance. From their perspective, it is their security. The relationship they develop with drugs or alcohol becomes their most intimate and valued one. Therefore, people in their lives who were once cherished begin to feel abandoned and betrayed, as if they have been replaced by drugs or alcohol. Indeed, they have.

Unfortunately, if friends, family members or significant others voice these feelings, thoughts or experiences regarding this reality or attempt to rescue the individual from the throes of active addiction, they are typically met with varying degrees of denial and distortion. These defense mechanisms usually present with the active addict’s efforts to;

  • deny a problem with drugs or alcohol,
  • dismiss any expressed pain or suffering caused by the abuse of these substances,
  • accuse those confronting the addiction of wrongful behavior,
  • shift blame and accountability to the intervening individuals,
  • manipulate said individuals with victimization, excuses and verbal expressions of martyrdom and self-pity.

These behaviors work to defend active addiction by denying its existence and distorting the reality of its destructive nature. Ultimately, the combined forces of denial and distortion—as presented in the bulletin points—create a chaotic maze of the active addict’s circular logic and the loved one’s dizzying cycles of repeated attempts to communicate concern. The latter continually gets stonewalled and eventually shut down. The well-orchestrated topsy-turvy outcome serves to distract and dissuade everyone from their attempts to confront the active addiction in the first place.

In short, the process of confronting active addiction can be crazy-making. Moreover, to attempt to address it repeatedly is the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is both a setup for and a characteristic of codependency.

That is the very reason denial and distortion are indeed addiction’s most powerful body guards. They not only work to protect the addictive substances and addiction itself. They also formulate such an insane, dysfunctional experience that those who become concerned and wish to interfere or intervene are forced to either maladapt and become increasingly codependent—a condition which requires recovery as well—or back off and simply let go.

Though the latter is always easier said than done, it is the necessary step each concerned individual must take in an effort to protect their own sanity and overall wellness. Aside from an organized intervention in which at least one helping professional is present to facilitate and mediate, there is nothing more that can be done to save an active addict from themselves. To prevent becoming an enabling part of the problem or an enmeshed piece of the dysfunction, loved ones must quickly employ their own empowering entourage; detachment and disengagement.


Acceptance vs. Enabling: The Difference Between a Caring Habit and a Destructive Pattern

By | Progress | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M. Ed., M.A.

Family members and friends of individuals struggling with active addiction often face their own inner battle. It is difficult for parents, partners and peers to witness the self-inflicted pain and suffering. Moreover, the compassionate heart of a parent often seeks to provide unconditional love, support and acceptance, regardless. Spouses feel bound by the vows which state “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.”

Additionally troubling is the reality friends face of wanting to support, encourage and accept the person they love to avoid adding pain to their destructive process. The idea that being that sort of ride or die friend constitutes true friendship is a dangerous one in most situations. In the case of active addiction, it is deadly.

Dr. William Glasser—father of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy—designated acceptance as one of the seven caring habits. Alongside trusting, supporting, encouraging, listening, negotiating differences and respecting, accepting is a behavior which nurtures and serves to grow relationships. The seven opposite of these are defined by Glasser as deadly habits and essentially destroy or kill relationships of any category.

Because the above is true, friends, family and significant others feel they are wrong in refusing to accept the negative behaviors, consequences and resulting chaos created by the individual in active addiction. In fact, they toil over the idea of emotional detachment—the process of letting go—because the terminology and experience seems cruel or lacking in empathy for their loved one.

However, there is a difference between acceptance—a caring habit—and enabling. Enabling is a destructive pattern of behavior which resembles acceptance and other caring habits. But, contrary to its appearance, enabling is not love. It is in fact anti-love because it ultimately serves to keep the individual in active addiction.

Enabling is the process of;

  • supporting, encouraging and accepting destructive, self-sabotaging behavior,
  • repeatedly listening to chronic bouts of victimization typically resulting from self-orchestrated, self-inflicted or self-perpetuated personal drama,
  • trusting the behavior will change regardless of the obvious pattern,
  • attempting to negotiate differences by merely taking a passive stance in the face of addiction’s anger and ego,
  • respecting the privacy—or secrecy—and destructive path of the individual rather than intervening.

Though the root of enabling is clearly prefaced with the seven caring habits, including but not limited to accepting, it does not grow or nurture the relationship or the individual. In fact, enabling kills both.

The only healthy way to practice acceptance with an individual in active addiction and avoid enabling is to simply realize there is a problem which is bigger than the individual. It is one only professional help can address. Rather than accepting the individual’s destructive behavior and resulting chaos, refuse to allow either in your life by suggesting professional help and emotionally detaching until that help is received.

The latter is not a cruel action, nor is it selfish. It is a practice in self-care—setting personal boundaries which protect against dysfunction. Moreover, it is an act of love toward the individual in active addiction because it holds them accountable, attempts to raise them to a higher standard of functioning and ultimately seeks to spur them into healing and recovery.


The Gift of Anger—Learning to Allow and Accept the Emotion

By | Anger | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Too often in today’s society we are asked to suppress or deny our anger. Concepts like the power of positive thinking andmanifesting our reality can work to steer us away from fully feeling and expressing our anger. Moreover, they may imply and impose upon us a dangerous level of guilt and shame for desiring to do so. The latter is something we likely already acquired in ample supply from our days in active addiction or dysfunction. Besides, where guilt and shame serve only to hurt us, anger can actually help us heal.

Anger is often a demonized emotion. Many people fear it, not knowing how to appropriately confront, express or release it. Some simply try to deny or dismiss it. However, the vast majority of people—in active addiction, recovering or not—simply believe it to be a state of victimization. Even some specialists within the addiction treatment field see anger as result of a lack of gratitude or an emotional expression of self-pity.

However, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to feel and express anger while simultaneously maintaining a sense of gratitude. But the awareness of lessons learned and ability to see a silver lining does not negate the justification for anger. Moreover, to deny ourselves or anyone else the right to feel and express it is to engage in oppressive recovery—the opposite of helping and a setup for relapse.

Truthfully, anger is indeed a gift. It is an internal alarm that loudly sounds when personal boundaries have been repeatedly crossed or disrespected. Anger amplifies our voice when we desperately need to speak and be heard and wakes us from a potentially holistically comatose state. Additionally, it is a normal, expected and necessary stage of grief, personal growth and healing.

As such, it is vital to successful recovery for individuals and helping professionals to learn to allow and accept the gift of anger within ourselves and others. After all, it is not anger that destroys us or causes us to relapse. But, in fact, the suppression of it can easily do both.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

No business owner wants to assume addiction in the workplace will be an issue. To plan for it sometimes feels like an omen or self-fulfilling prophecy. However, refusing to have a plan in place for the worst case scenario leaves businesses unprepared and results in a detrimental reactive state. It is far better to initially take a professional proactive stance.

Preventative measures normally utilized during the hiring process simply do not guarantee problems like addiction in the workplace will not occur. Prevention is certainly a step all companies should take. However, even if the company chooses a method of drug testing that is fail-proof, not hiring an active addict does not prevent relapse for recovering addicts hired or currently employed. Additionally, it does nothing for employees who may be developing chemical dependency.

Termination is not always the simple answer. Many valued employees, managers and even business owners struggle with addiction. It is a disease and, therefore, does not discriminate. Fortunately for businesses, there are ways of confronting addiction in the workplace, protecting the business and its employees, addressing any resulting issues while still offering compassion and, eventually, an opportunity to return to or maintain employment with the company.

Below are six possibilities:

  • Incorporating addiction and recovery education for management and staff
  • Supplying training opportunities for management/staff to assist in identifying signs of addiction
  • Providing opportunities for staff to attend addiction and recovery presentations and/or conferences
  • Offering a leave of absence—similar to maternity leave—that allots time for addicted employees to receive adequate drug/alcohol treatment
  • Opting for insurance that covers drug treatment
  • Collaborating with intensive outpatient programs designed to assist recovering individuals who relapse

Any or all of these can easily be incorporated into a company’s policies and procedures. Each provide feasible ways of being proactive with regard to addiction in the workplace. Of course, business owners should always hope for the best with regard to their employees, themselves and their business. But, as any business-minded person knows, preparing for the worst is the best way to prevent panic, chaos and the ultimate demise of the company.

If you are a business owner in need of resources for the aforementioned list of proactive possibilities for your company, contact Stages of Recovery via our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP.

The Risk for Businesses

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Addiction in the workplace poses many potential problems for businesses. Of course, the main threat is chaos within the work environment and business system. However, chaos plays out in various ways for businesses and, like families, affects more than just the addict and the business as an entity. It is toxic to the entire system and all those working within and relying on it.

This trickle-down effect creates resentment, decreased productivity, shatters morale and ultimately causes a lack of respect for management, employers, business owners and the company itself. Additionally, it generally creates an unsafe work environment. Though there may not be direct physical threats on individuals as a result of addiction in the workplace, there are negative emotional/psychological ramifications for non-addicted employees which often leads to poor performance and eventually resignation or termination.

The potential loss of valued employees and overall shift in the internal view of the company, its mission and founders is just the tip of the iceberg. There are external risks to consider as well. Companies rely on their employees to maintain and operate the business. But, it is the consumers, clients, customers, etc., who fortify the company with the means to operate and employ those individuals. If representation becomes tainted by way of addiction and the aforementioned negative effects, the reputation of the company is suddenly in question and financial support is easily lost.

The point is simple: Addiction is a disease, and disease spreads.

The toxicity either climbs the corporate ladder and eventually negatively impacts even those far removed from the reaches of the addicted employee or spirals downward, knocking off each rung of the ladder on its way down. Ultimately, the company plummets to rock bottom alongside the addict. In other words, nothing good comes from addiction in the workplace, so there’s never a good or justifiable reason to enable or allow it to continue.

Though the latter seems obvious to most, many employers and businesses find it difficult to terminate an employee based solely on the presence of addiction. Considering the fact that addiction is generally viewed and referred to as a disease, they find it troubling—both legally and personally—to dismiss someone from their professional duties based on the realization of the onset of an illness.

However, like any other disease, if left untreated, addiction will advance and worsen. As such, it is important for business owners and employers to realize that continuing to employ an active addict or alcoholic is no different or less enabling than employing a person with untreated, advanced diabetes. Moreover, for a business owner, it is a form of self-sabotage.

The physical and mental health of an individual directly affects their ability to show up, be mentally present, perform required tasks and perpetuate and participate in the positive forward movement of the company. Additionally, poor physical and mental health creates risk for not only the addicted employee but other staff members as well. The risks far outweigh any short-term perceived benefits of enabling active addiction in the workplace.

The Problem with Prevention

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Many businesses often encounter addiction in the workplace. Some set up drug testing as a preventative screening tool during the hiring process to avoid such occurrences. However, most addicts and substance abusers are aware of the half-life of their substance of choice. As such, they know just how long to abstain in order to pass a drug test. Additionally, there are methods of over-the-counter detox, easily purchased and readily accessible day or night, which prevent positive drug tests.

Some readers might believe traditional urinalysis drug testing is a measure put in place to prevent even the recreational use of drugs, and in that way highly beneficial and successful. However, it is only so with those companies who administer random drug testing throughout the duration of employment. And, with regard to random, there are very few companies who don’t disclose the onset of a test with some degree of advanced notice. In that way, the sole purpose of the test is basically sabotaged.

The only fail-proof way to test for illicit drugs is through hair follicles. However, those tests are rather expensive and tedious and often present false positives. Though the turnaround time for results is improving with advanced technology, it is simply not always feasible for the purposes of hiring or maintaining drug-free employees. Besides, addicts will search and typically find ways to pass any drug test or obscure results, even willingly shaving their heads to avoid a positive result.*

Truth be told, there is no limit to what an addict will do to avoid the negative consequences which might lead to a realization of a real problem. However, simply not applying is not necessarily on that list. Remember, manipulation is a skill drug addicts and alcoholics master.

Consequently, though companies believe drug testing prevents the inadvertent hiring of an active drug addict, it doesn’t do much of anything other than reinforce an addict’s manipulative tactics and methods of denial and increase the false sense of security for businesses and non-addicted employees. Moreover, drug testing does absolutely nothing—and seeks to do less—to prevent the hiring of active alcoholics.

How does it seek to do less?

Well, drug testing is simply that; a test designed to screen for drug use, including alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs. However, since alcohol is a socially accepted drug, the stigma for even the recreational use of illegal drugs is quite different. In fact, most helping professionals (including myself) differentiate the terms; addicts and alcoholics.

When companies require drug testing, they are implying by way of omission and semantics that no other form of substance use, abuse or addiction is problematic or even considered with regard to hiring. Hence, the reason recreational alcohol consumers rarely fear a drug test, yet recreational marijuana smokers stock op on Goldenseal and other urine cleansing agents in preparation for one.** Additionally, drug testing does not test for alcohol in the same way it might for opioids or amphetamines due to the vast variation in half-life.

Though a high BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) would certainly raise a red flag and prevent hiring, an individual would need to be literally drunk during the hiring process. Though that is not unheard of, as advanced stages of alcoholism and addiction certainly require a certain degree of intoxication for normalization and the prevention of withdrawal symptoms, it is not the only marker for alcoholism. Testing the urine or blood for alcohol would merely prevent the hiring of an alcoholic in the advanced stages of the disease, as most companies would not likely decide not to hire someone with trace amounts of alcohol in their system.

The problem with prevention with regard to businesses is because of the nature of addiction and drugs in general, there is no certainty in the screening process. Additionally, due to society’s vague definition of addiction, the preventative measures don’t account for alcoholism—the nation’s #1 disease and most frequently occurring and problematic addiction known to businesses. As such, though prevention is of course the first step, it is not the only one businesses should take in an effort to remain proactive with regard to addiction in the workplace.

[Note: With regard to hair follicle drug test, unless eyebrows, eyelashes and all other hairs are removed from the body prior to a hair follicle drug test, shaving one’s head will not prevent the presentation of a sample or a positive result. Moreover, mandatory drug testing by definition implies one must provide a sample to be tested. As such, if an individual agrees to mandatory testing, a sample will be provided and tested, regardless.] [Note: There is no evidence of Goldenseal actually detoxing urine and preventing a positive drug test result. However, many still consider it a go-to for detoxing prior to drug testing.