Substance Abuse Professional FAQs

DOT is allowing SAPs to provide remote assessments at their discretion during the COVID crisis. These remote evaluations will only be allowed as long as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines there is a public health emergency or until June 30, 2020, whichever is sooner. Read the full statement.

Below are answers to many of the frequently asked questions we receive regarding the Substance Abuse Professional credential and training. If you still have questions, please contact us at naadac@naadac.org.

Who is required to engage in qualification training and education to be a SAP?

Anyone who wants to do evaluations and provide treatment recommendations to a DOT-covered services member must be qualified through education and testing to be a SAP.

What credentials may pursue a SAP qualification?

You cannot be a SAP unless you are:

  • alcohol and drug abuse counselor certified by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission (NAADAC)
  • Master Addiction Counselor certified by NAADAC or National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC)
  • licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
  • alcohol and drug abuse counselor certified by the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC)
  • licensed or certified social worker
  • licensed or certified psychologist
  • licensed or certified employee assistance professional
  • state-licensed or certified marriage and family therapist

What knowledge is expected of a person qualified to be a SAP?

You cannot be a SAP unless you have knowledge of and clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse-related disorders. You cannot be a SAP without understanding how the SAP role relates to the special responsibilities employers have for ensuring the safety of the traveling public. Nor can you be a SAP unless you are well informed about Part 40, pertinent DOT agency regulations, these SAP guidelines, and any significant changes to them. It is important to note that your degrees and certificates alone do not confer to you these knowledge requirements.

Do I have to take a test to be qualified as a SAP?

Following completion of your training, you must satisfactorily complete an examination. This examination must be given by a nationally recognized professional or training organization and must comprehensively cover all the elements required for the qualification training.

Is there a requirement for ongoing continuing education/professional development?

During each three-year period following satisfactory completion of your training and examination, you must complete at least 12 professional development hours (e.g., Continuing Education Units) relevant to your performing SAP duties.

Who are the DOT-covered employees under DOT Testing Regulation 49 CFR Part 40?

I took my qualification test from another DOT/SAP company. Can I submit my information to NAADAC to be added to NAADAC’s SAP Provider Directory?

No. Only persons who have completed the NAADAC DOT SAP training and pass the qualification or requalification test can be added to the NAADAC SAP Provider Directory.

A DOT-referred client began their evaluation with me but did not complete the evaluation. They return to me 6 months later and what to complete their evaluation, starting where they left off. Can they complete their evaluation where they left off?

No. A new evaluation will need to be initiated.

If a person starts their DOT assessment with another SAP, and then contacts me – a different SAP – to complete a new DOT evaluation, is this acceptable?

No. Covered DOT employees may not shop around for a SAP. Once they start an evaluation with a SAP, they cannot transfer to another SAP.

When I list my SAP qualification anywhere, can I list it as DOT/SAP or just SAP?

The SAP is a qualification and not a certification. You can only list yourself as a SAP and cannot list yourself as a DOT/SAP, as the DOT did not certify or qualify you.

Can I do SAP assessments using telehealth-related technology or video conferencing technology?

No. All SAP evaluations must be done in person (face-to-face), per DOT rules.

The employee is stating that they have a medical marijuana card for medical purposes (i.e., anxiety and pain). Does the DOT recognize and allow the employee’s use of medical marijuana? Recreational marijuana?

No, the DOT will not allow any covered employees to use any form of marijuana. Please read the following DOT notices regarding marijuana:

Can an employee come to me for a SAP evaluation without a referral from a DRS?

No, an employee cannot come to you without  paperwork showing who the DRS is. The DRS is your employer contact person.  The DRS is the person receiving updates and return-to-duty status from you.

What happens when the employee needs to get a SAP evaluation and complete the SAP’s recommendations – and the employee has left their previous place of employment and is starting at a new place of employment?

The SAPs evaluations and treatment recommendations stand.  The reports and recommendations will be sent to the new DRS as they will have to make sure the covered employee completes the SAP recommendations prior to putting the employee into a safety-sensitive position.

What is and how do I register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse, a web-based system found at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov, will provide Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and employers of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers with the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating CMVs due to DOT drug and alcohol program violations.

All SAPs who work with or plan to work with covered employees under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must register with the Clearinghouse.

Click here to learn more about the Clearinghouse and how to sign up.