Return To Work Programs

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Return To Work Programs

What Is A Return To Work Program?

As the name implies, a return-to-duty program is an established plan that helps reintegrate employees who have failed a drug test. For many employers, automatic termination is not the default consequence of a failed drug test, and the completion of a return-to-duty program can save their position. However, in order for these programs to be successful and acknowledged by employers, they must be guided by certified substance abuse professionals (SAPs).

How It Works

Did you recently fail a mandated drug and/or alcohol evaluation? Ready to get your career back on track with a certified Return-To-Duty Program? Guide yourself through the process of how a return-to-work program works below.

What Type Of Evaluation Did You Fail?


Were you recently removed from your job because you failed or refused to take one of the followed evaluations?

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Did you recently fail a drug or alcohol screening administered by one of the following organizations?

  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

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Ready To Get Your Career Back On Track?


Affordable Evaluations has the knowledge, experience, and credentials to help you return to work. We have help employees from a variety of industries.

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The substance abuse professionals at Affordable Evaluations are certified to guide you through the process of returning to your DOT-industry job.

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What Will I Have to Do?

While the return-to-work requirements differ from industry to industry, both DOT and NON-DOT Return-To-Work Programs utilize the same general framework. Below are the steps that you will have to complete before you can regain employment in your industry.


After failing or refusing to take a drug or alcohol evaluation, the first step to returning to work is receiving an evaluation by a certified substance abuse professional. During this initial evaluation, your SAP will develop a treatment plan and course of action that is guided by your industry’s specific requirements.


Although treatment plans can vary depending on industry requirements and individual circumstances, more often than not treatment includes some combination of counseling, education courses, and other methods.


After you have completed all the required programs recommended by your SAP, you will then be required to undergo a follow-up evaluation performs by the same SAP. During this follow-up evaluation, the SAP will assess your progress and condition. If this goes well, you will receive a written determination that speaks to your eligibility to perform your job.

Drug & Alcohol Evaluation

Before returning to work, the employee is required to pass a return-to-duty drug evaluation. This screening must be performed by an authorized testing service, like Affordable Evaluations. If the screening is negative, you then become legally permitted to return to duty. However, this is ultimately a decision that is made by your employer.

Why Would My Employer Give Me Another Chance?

Believe it or not, a well-run return to work program is a win-win for employees and employers. They give employees a second chance, which is an opportunity that often yields better overall work, and they allow employers to protect the investment they made in employees, as well as ensure that their workplace is free of substance abuse.

Why Was I Tested?

If you’re out of work due to a failed or refused drug or alcohol test, you may be wondering why you were tested in the first place.


In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act. This act mandated that people who work in safety-sensitive positions in the transportation industry – such as pilots, truck drivers, bus drivers, etc. – be subject to drug and alcohol testing, and requires DOT agencies to perform such testing. The act aims to protect the safety of the public by ensuring that employees who work in positions that could be potentially hazardous are able to pass alcohol and drug tests.

Whether you’ve been suspended from your job, need a drug evaluation as part of your probation agreement, or a company is requiring you to take part in an SAP-guided program as a condition of future employment, we can help. Utilizing our vast network of professional resources, we’ll help you make sure that you’ve successfully met your obligations on time and without issues.

Who Requires Testing?

There are many transportation agencies that require their employees to undergo and pass alcohol and drug tests, including but not limited to the following:

  • FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • FRA – Federal Railroad Administration
  • FAA – Federal Aviation Administration
  • FTA – Federal Transit Administration
  • USCG – United States Coast Guard
  • PHMSA – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Many other industries also require drug and alcohol testing, including those whose job descriptions require performing duties that are potentially dangerous, such as welding, scaffolding, hydro-blasting, boilermaker, construction, lab technicians, fire/hole watch, and many other safety-sensitive professions.

When Can They Test?

Industries who require testing can opt to test for a number of different reasons. If you’re a new hire or are being considered for access to a specific area of your job, you may be asked to complete a drug or alcohol test prior to starting work or being granted access. If an accident occurs or your supervisor is given reasonable suspicion that you may be intoxicated on the job, he or she may be required to test you. Employers can also conduct tests after you return to work from a previous incident or at random.

  • Pre-employment
  • Random
  • Reasonable suspicion/cause
  • Post-accident
  • Return to Duty
  • Follow-up
  • Pre-access
  • Other

Employer Services

If you’re an employer or manager in need of an expert to help a valued employee return to work promptly while still meeting the requirements and stipulations set by your specific industry, we can help there, too. We understand that valued employees sometimes falter and simply need a second chance. Don’t let safety or productivity be affected by the personal issues of an employee. Our return-to-work program is meant to help businesses protect their bottom line while ensuring workers meet the strictest industry standards. Our substance abuse professionals adhere to the guidelines of DOT, DISA and NASAP.

Find out more by contacting our Houston office. We promise confidentiality and courtesy in all that we do.

Ready To Return To Work?

We’re ready to help. The substance abuse professionals at Affordable Evaluations have worked with employees in a wide variety of industries, and we have the experience and certifications required to get you back to work after a failed drug test. Whether you are a DOT employee or an employee of some other industry, when you partner with us to get your career back on track, we leverage our experience and knowledge to help you restore your status and remain gainfully employed.

Have questions? Ready to get started? Send us a confidential message below or give us a call at 281-971-1969.