Drug and alcohol response programs

Drug and alcohol management plans (DAMPs) must include a drug and alcohol response program. These make sure that anyone who carries out safety sensitive aviation activities (SSAAs) under the influence of alcohol or other drugs stops doing those activities until it’s safe for them to start again.

These programs come into effect when an employee tests positive for alcohol or other drugs.

Stopping SSAAs

DAMP organisations must stop an employee from doing SSAAs if:

  • the employee tests positive for alcohol or drugs. They must not return to performing SSAAs until a confirmatory test returns a negative result
  • a second (confirmatory) test returns a positive result and a medical review officer (MRO) finds the result wasn’t due to medical treatment or a harmless source
  • the employee refuses a test or interferes with a test
  • a DAMP supervisor suspects on reasonable grounds that an employee is under the influence of alcohol or a testable drug
  • an accident or serious incident happens.

Starting SSAAs again

If an employee has been stopped from doing SSAAs, due to a confirmatory alcohol or drug test, they can only start doing these activities again if:

  • they have a comprehensive assessment for alcohol or drug use
  • they start an intervention program (this only applies if a medical review officer recommends it)
  • the medical review officer and treating clinician (where relevant) say the employee is fit to start doing SSAAs again
  • the employee returns a test showing no drugs are present
  • the medical review officer is satisfied that the employee is not using alcohol or other drugs.

Organisations can decide if an employee can return to work or not. This depends on the organisation's policies and procedures about alcohol and other drug use in the workplace.

Comprehensive assessments

A comprehensive assessment aims to:

  • find out more about an employee's alcohol or other drug use
  • recommend the most suitable treatment options.

Comprehensive assessments can be conducted by:

  • a psychiatrist
  • a doctor who specialises in addictions
  • a doctor and an appropriately qualified alcohol and other drug professional.

Intervention programs

A medical review officer can recommend an employee take part in a tailored intervention program.

This could include:

  • assessment
  • education
  • counselling
  • treatment
  • monitoring
  • follow-up.

If an organisation plans to let an employee start doing SSAAs again, they must give the employee time to attend an intervention program if a medical review officer says this is required.

Last updated:
4 Dec 2021
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