SAP Services

What is a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)?


The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation -- 49 CFR Part 40 -- defines the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) as a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.


A SAP is an advocate for neither the employer nor the employee. His/her recommendations protect the public safety in the event that the employee returns to the performance of safety-sensitive functions.


A DOT recognized Substance Abuse Professional must be one of the following:



  • A licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)

  • A licensed or certified social worker

  • A licensed or certified psychologist

  • A licensed or certified employee assistance professional

  • A state-licensed or certified marriage and family therapist *

  • A certified or licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor **

The DOT regulations also require that SAP’s complete the training and pass a nationally recognized examination. This program includes information on the nine required content areas as designated in DOT Section 281(c) of Part 40. Content areas include an overview of the DOT drug and alcohol testing program, the drug and alcohol testing rules, and key DOT drug testing requirements.


What does a SAP do?


The SAP's fundamental responsibility is to provide a comprehensive face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation to determine what level of assistance the employee needs in resolving problems associated with alcohol use or prohibited drug use. The SAP then recommends a course of education and/or treatment with which the employee must demonstrate successful compliance prior to returning to DOT safety-sensitive duty. Treatment recommendations can include, but are not limited to: In-patient treatment, partial in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, education programs, and aftercare. Education recommendations can include, but are not limited to approved drug and alcohol education courses, self-help groups. Upon the determination of the best recommendation for assistance, you will serve as a referral source to assist the employee's entry into an acceptable program.


Prior to the employee's return to safety-sensitive duties, the SAP will have a face-to-face follow-up evaluation with the employee to determine if the individual has demonstrated successful compliance with recommendations of the initial evaluation. This evaluation must be accomplished before an employer can consider the employee for return to safety-sensitive functions. Therefore, the evaluation serves to provide the employer with assurance that the employee has made appropriate clinical progress sufficient to return to duty.


Gene P. Smith is an approved SAP and SAE and is currently on the approved list for NC DOT and meets the national DOT guidelines. Life Changes can provide your SAP services along with training and managing your SAP services.


Our company will need to contract with you to be your official SAP provider. This will ensure that you are in compliance with DOT and we can verify to DOT we are your SAP services provider. Contact us to see how we can help.


Gene P. Smith, founder and CEO of Life Changes EAP, worked with Community Services in Virginia for six years. In 1989 he left there and started a company that provided consulting and counseling services. In 1993 he renamed the current company and narrowed the focus of his services, with a concentration on employee assistance programs (EAP’s), DOT programs, consulting & training services. He has also been providing substance abuse education since 1977.


Life Changes has offices throughout Virginia and North Carolina; we also network with EAP providers throughout the United States and Canada. Whether your company has only one office or has facilities worldwide, we can be your single source for all of the employee assistance services that your company may need.


Whether Life Changes provides all of your employee assistance services or coordinates your existing services, you will enjoy the benefits of a local EAP with years of proven experience.


Life Changes is an independent company and is not affiliated with a particular treatment facility to make sure we represent your company needs.


Life Changes EAP can also provide the required training for supervisors and employees on both DOT and the Drug Free Workplace (DFW) guidelines. Call us on our prices for training at your facility or at our facililty