What Is a SAP Referral?

What Is a SAP Referral?


If you’ve recently failed or refused a DOT drug test, you may have received a SAP referral. This puts you in touch with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) who can help you get back to work. The U.S. Department of Transportation will not allow you to return to safety-sensitive duties until you’ve completed a SAP process. Let’s take a closer look at how that works and what you can expect along the way.

What Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) Do

A Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a clinician that guides workers through the Return-to-Duty (RTD) process. SAPs come from many backgrounds, including licensed psychologists, drug and alcohol counselors, physicians, social workers, and more.

SAPs have extensive specialized training focused on the Return-to-Duty process. They are in charge of recommending the steps each worker must take before returning to a safety-sensitive position. Each recommendation is different, and SAPs must know how to personalize a plan to fit the client’s needs and DOT regulations.

Why You May Receive a SAP Referral

If you’ve received a SAP referral, it’s most likely because you have refused or failed a DOT drug test. Refusing a test is considered failing, even if you would have passed it at that time. The DOT will not let you return to work until completing the SAP or RTD process, and the first step in that process is a SAP referral.

What to Expect during the SAP Process

The SAP process starts with an in-person meeting with your Substance Abuse Professional. Here at ASAP, we’re able to get most clients in to see their SAPs within 48 hours of enrollment. The first meeting sets the baseline for your RTD process so your SAP can create a plan for you.

Your SAP will outline the steps you must complete to return to work. This may include drug and alcohol counseling, online courses, therapy, or any number of steps. Once you complete these tasks, you’ll see your SAP again for a follow-up visit. Then your SAP can approve you to take a Return-to-Duty drug test.

After completing your RTD drug test, your employer can evaluate the information and potentially reinstate you as an employee. You will be subject to random drug testing for the first year, separate from the random drug tests your employer might perform.

If you do not pass your RTD drug test or the subsequent random drug test, you will need to start the RTD process over again.

How to Find a SAP near You (with or without a SAP Referral)

American Substance Abuse Professionals has a network of thousands of DOT-qualified SAPs to help workers get back to their jobs after a failed drug test. You may have received a SAP referral from your employer, or you may simply be searching for a SAP near you. Either way, ASAP to assist you.