Recommended Agency Policies

Guidelines for Ministers in Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Recovery

The recommended agency policies include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of terms and concepts
  3. Guidelines

I. Introduction

Alcohol and drug dependency complaints about credentialed ministers represent some of the most difficult complaints to review. Ministry leaders have a duty to protect the spiritual health of the public. Ministers who misuse, abuse and/or are active in a chemical addiction have the potential to place the public at risk, physically and spiritually. The below guidelines stimulate their recovery and provide limitations to their ministry until they can demonstrate a recovery process.

The ministry guidelines below are adapted from programs used by many States to ensure the recovery of nurses and other medical personnel. We believe that alcohol and chemical dependency guidelines for ministers should portray the same Christ-like compassion described in the story of the Good Samaritan. As a Christ-centered ministry, we hope to promote a greater level of care and effectiveness than any secular program.

II. Definition of Terms and Concepts

A. Chemical Dependency/Addiction: A multiphasic disease which affects individuals physically, mentally (cognitive), emotionally and spiritually. It follows a predictable and progressive course that shows the following symptoms:

  •  Compulsion
  •  Loss of control
  •  Changes in tolerance
  •  Continued substance use, despite the obvious potential for negative consequences.

Some drugs produce psychological dependence where the individual uses the drug to alter feelings but no physical addiction occurs. Psychological dependence is characterized by excessive thinking, planning, and living life around access to and ability to use chemicals. Other drugs produce physical as well as psychological addiction where increased tolerance and physical dependence are symptomatic. Physical dependence is characterized by physiological withdrawal symptoms in the absence or decreasing levels of the drug and which may be life threatening without appropriate medical intervention.

B. Chemical Abuse: The use of a drug for purposes other than the purpose for which the drug is intended; in amounts higher than therapeutically recognized; and/or any use that puts others at risk of harm. Although the abuse of a drug(s) is symptomatic of chemical dependency, abuse without the other signs/symptoms of chemical dependency is not sufficient to warrant a diagnosis of chemical dependency. In general, the risks associated with drug abuse increase as the amount or frequency of use increases, including the risk of developing chemical dependency. However, there are individuals who have demonstrated signs and symptoms of addiction immediately following their initial exposure to a drug and/or following therapeutically prescribed drugs. An additional concern for leadership is that abuse of mood or thought altering chemicals by a credentialed minister has the potential to adversely affect the spiritual and physical safety of others.

C. Drug Screen, For Cause: A drug screen that is requested/obtained subsequent to observed behavioral indicators of potential drug impairment. A positive “for cause” drug screen indicates a high potential for chemical dependency. When individuals show a loss of control and continued use of a drug in spite of the potential for negative consequences,  chemical dependency seems apparent.

D. Drug Screen, Random: A drug screen that is obtained on a random basis and not based upon observed behavioral indicators. Although the potential for chemical dependency must be ruled out, in general, an individual who randomly tests positive in a random drug screen represents a lower immediate threat to public safety than the individual who tests positive in a “for cause” screen.

Employers/supervisors who institute/utilize random drug screening should develop well defined testing protocols. These employers/supervisors generally require that employees read the policies and sign their consent for random drug testing. Therefore, testing positive in a random drug screen when one is well informed of the potential for testing is symptomatic of continued use, despite the obvious potential for negative consequences, a symptom of chemical dependency.

E. Drug Screen, Pre-employment: A drug screen that is obtained as a condition of employment offering. Many ministry agencies require drug screening prior to credentialing and prior to any offer of a ministry position. Therefore, when a credentialed minister fails a pre-employment or pre-credentialing drug screen, a high potential exists for abuse and chemical dependency. The failure to pass a pre-emptive drug screen is symptomatic of the inability to control one’s drug use despite the obvious negative consequences.

F. Employment Indicators of Chemical Abuse/Dependency: For credentialed ministers, the professional work environment remains one of the last places where chemical abuse/dependency becomes apparent. Credentialed ministers strive to maintain their professional identity and respect. Therefore, when workplace indicators are present, the risk for potential adverse affects to the public is increased. Employment indicators include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Changes in time and attendance (or failure to adhere to the established standard) both in arriving to duty as well as accountability for their time while on duty. A chemically dependent individual especially struggles with missing their first work day of the week (many ministers take Monday off, so Tuesday becomes their first workday of the week).
  • Changes in behavior and changes in relationships with others or behavior that is not appropriate in the ministry work environment. Alcohol reduces inhibitions. Therefore, most chemically dependent ministers eventually start to bend or break their normal boundaries that prevent inappropriate relationships.
  • Declining performance (reflective of the cognitive disruption that takes place as a result of abuse/dependency) as indicated by failure to follow through with assignments, difficulty with decision making, and decreased productivity.
  • Reporting to duty with the odor of alcohol present.
  • Failure to follow through with a request for a “for cause” drug screen.
  • Frequent job losses and changes.

G. Legal Indicators of Chemical Dependency/Abuse include but are not limited, to the following:

  • History of arrests and/or encounters with law enforcement personnel that involves alcohol and/or drugs.
  • DUI arrests: In order for a DUI arrest to occur, four factors must simultaneously occur. These factors include the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, driving a vehicle, doing something while driving the vehicle that draws the attention of others, and an officer present to see/witness the behavior and/or outcome (accident) of the behavior. Not that any DUI is without concern but the higher the alcohol level, the higher the risk factor for ongoing abuse/dependence—the high alcohol level is indicative of tolerance, a symptom of chemical dependency. Additionally, a DUI arrest related to drugs (verses alcohol) is of great concern in that law enforcement individuals generally do not conduct a sobriety test, absent the odor of alcohol, unless the behavior/responses of the individual reflect obvious impairment. The average social drinker does not normally engage in activity leading towards a DUI arrest/conviction. Each arrest is therefore of concern, with each additional arrest increasing the likelihood that an individual is chemically dependent.

H. Evaluation of Chemical Dependency: When behavioral indicators suggest chemical dependency and the credentialed minister denies abuse and/or dependence upon chemicals, an expert evaluation is needed. Four types of evaluators available to assess a credentialed minister’s need for treatment include:

  • Addictionologist: A physician, a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) who is certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) should be considered when the credentialed minister does not believe/acknowledge that he/she abuses chemicals, and indicators present suggest they may abuse chemicals and concurrent medical issues put them at risk for abuse/dependency.

Examples of medical issues that may put one at risk for abuse and/or dependence include: a history of chronic pain; a history of migraines; fibromyalgia; attention deficit disorder; bipolar disorder, and/or any ongoing medical or dental event which has required frequent or long term narcotic analgesics.

  • Addictionist: An individual who is doctorally prepared and who specializes in diagnosing and treating chemical dependency should be considered when the credentialed minister does not believe/acknowledge the abuse of chemicals and/or has indicators present that suggest he/she may abuse chemicals and lacks concurrent medical issues that put the individual at risk for abuse/dependency.
  • Certified Chemical Dependency Therapist: An individual who is certified by a certifying organization for treatment of chemically dependent individuals may provide an evaluation and recommendations for treatment when the credentialed minister acknowledges being active or recently having been affected by the disease of chemical dependency (the individual acknowledges being chemically dependent and therefore the evaluation is related to treatment not diagnosis).
  • Relapse Prevention Therapist: An individual who meets the qualifications of any of the above three categories and who is certified as a relapse prevention therapist and/or has extensive employment experience focusing on relapse prevention therapy. A relapse evaluation should be considered when the credentialed minister has previously participated in treatment/recovery activities and has indicators present that suggest the individual may have relapsed or when it is deemed appropriate to obtain an evaluation of current recovery status.

III. Guidelines

This policy is advisory only, and does not include internal procedures.

The following disciplinary guidelines for potential alcohol/drug misuse, abuse and dependency are intended for cases where the credentialed minister has not undergone previous disciplinary action for alcohol or chemical dependency. These guidelines may seem lax in cases where there has been previous discipline for related violations.

This policy requires setting up an agency-wide Chemically Addicted Minister Recovery Option (CAMRO) office to manage the CAMRO program for chemically addicted ministers and to review their periodic minister status reports.

Credentialed ministers who are eligible for the CAMRO Program may enter the CAMRO Program as a non-disciplinary resolution when they self-refer into the program, contingent upon the credentialed minister voluntarily entering the CAMRO Program prior to the initiation of an investigation. Credentialed ministers can self-report themselves to enter CAMRO, or the agency or Church can report them for chemical dependency. When supervisors for a credentialed minister receive a drug abuse complaint/self report and the credentialed minister is not eligible for the CAMRO Program and/or declines entry into the CAMRO Program, the minister will be placed under investigation and the complaint will be assigned to an investigator.

The policy on credential suspension varies:

  • No suspension of credentials or disciplinary action for ministers who self-refer themselves into the CAMRO program
  • Three months suspension of credentials for ministers who enter a CAMRO contract or program due to an agency complaint, a church complaint, a complaint by an individual, or a DUI or similar event, and the minister admits to chemical dependency
  • Three years suspension of credentials for referrals where the minister denies chemical dependency but a subsequent investigation indicates a high probability of chemical dependency
  • Revocation of credentials for repeated relapses and/or harm to the public

Comorbid issues: Ministers with a chemical dependency frequently suffer from comorbid issues. These other issues often result from the reduction of inhibitions that result from chemical dependency. Comorbid issues include sexual infidelity and other moral failures, financial irresponsibility, physical illnesses, and legal problems. The comorbid issues, in themselves, may eliminate eligibility for CAMRO and result in suspension or revocation of minister credentials as a separate issue from chemical dependency.

A. First Time Offense (DUI, Drug Abuse Complaint, or Failure to Pass a Drug Screen or an Evaluation of Chemical Dependency):

1. Credentialed minister admits chemically dependency (CD): If eligible for CAMRO, offer CAMRO. If not eligible or declines entry into CAMRO, a (3) year chemical dependency (CD) Probation.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency: If the DUI or the results of a drug screen show an alcohol level greater than .1, drugs other than alcohol, or resulted in public harm and/or employment related concerns are identified during the investigation, a Chemical Dependency Evaluation should be obtained to provide an expert assessment of potential risk to public and to identify recommendations, if any, for treatment. If the court fails to uphold the DUI, or the Chemical Dependency Evaluation is negative, Decree of Censure.

Disciplinary options for first time offense include but are not limited to:

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials and intensive treatment at least as rigorous as the CAMRO program and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation.
  • Monitored Probation: If no CD treatment is recommended, Monitored Probation includes periodic and randomized urine screens, specialized counseling (e.g., conflict management), and/or periodic employment review. Examples of cases where this may occur include cases where the employment review reflects indicators of alcohol/drug related symptoms and/or prior information in arrest records or other document review reflects high potential for other than an isolated event.

Non-disciplinary options include:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms.
  • Letter of Concern

B. Second Time Offense (DUI, Drug Abuse Complaint, or Failure to Pass a Drug Screen or an Evaluation of Chemical Dependency):

1. Credentialed minister admits chemically dependency: If eligible for CAMRO, offer CAMRO. If not eligible or declines entry into CAMRO, a (3) year CD Probation.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency: Investigative review should include an employment review for, at minimum, the previous (5) years, a review of any legal history in addition to motor vehicle history, and an evaluation of chemical dependency to assess potential risk to the public and to identify recommendations, if any, for treatment.

Disciplinary options for second time offense include but are not limited to:

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials and intensive treatment at least as rigorous as the CAMRO program and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation.
  • Practice/Monitoring Probation: Consider for cases where the addiction evaluation does not identify a need for CD treatment but recommends monitoring of randomized urine screens, specialized counseling (e.g., conflict management), and/or periodic employment review.
  • Revocation of credentials: Consider for those who are not eligible for continued credentials, and/or whose conduct has compromised public safety.

C. Three or More Offenses (DUI’s, Drug Abuse Complaints, or Failure to Pass a Drug Screen or an Evaluation of Chemical Dependency):

1. Credentialed minister admits chemical dependency: Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials, in-patient treatment in a licensed chemical dependency treatment program of at least 60 days, enrollment in CAMRO program for the remaining three years, and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation. Consider for cases where the credentialed minister has begun treatment and is demonstrating commitment to a recovery process, and who otherwise is eligible to maintain credentials.
  • Revocation of credentials: Consider for those who are not eligible for continued credentials, and/or whose conduct has compromised public safety.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency. Investigative review should include an employment review for, at minimum, the previous (5) years, a review of any legal history in addition to motor vehicle history, and an addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide an expert assessment of potential risk to public and to identify recommendations, if any, for treatment.

If investigation confirms chemical dependency, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Revocation of credentials.

D. New Credential Applicant First Time DUI or Drug Related Misdemeanor Conviction.

Some ministers struggled with chemical dependency issues prior to becoming a Christian and a minister. These individuals may struggle with chemical dependency issues for life.

1. Applicant admits to chemical dependency. If eligible for CAMRO, options may include granting credentials upon completion of CAMRO program. If not eligible for CAMRO, options include granting credentials contingent upon signing a Consent Agreement and after completing a (3) year CD Probation, or denial of credentials.

2. Applicant admits to chemical dependency and is able to validate, through documentation, successful completion of a treatment program and/or evidence of at minimum, (3) years recovery. Option recommended is to grant credentials with a Letter of Concern.

3. Applicant denies chemical dependence: If the DUI or results of a drug screen show an alcohol level greater than .1; a DUI related to drugs other than alcohol; an arrest for drugs other than alcohol related; and/or resulted in public harm; and/or other related concerns are identified during the investigation, an addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide for an expert assessment of potential risk to patient/public and identify recommendations, if any, for treatment. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms
  • Denial of Credentials.

E. New Credential Applicant With Multiple DUI/Drug Related Offenses and/or a Felony Conviction (but still eligible for credentialing consideration)

1. Applicant admits to chemical dependency. If eligible for CAMRO, options may include grant credentials upon completion of CAMRO. If not eligible for CAMRO, options include, but are not limited to grant credentials contingent upon signing a Consent Agreement for a (3) year CD Probation, or denial of credentials.

2. Applicant denies chemical dependency. Investigative review should include a review of legal history, motor vehicle history and an addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide for an expert assessment of potential risk to public and identify recommendations, if any, for treatment. Disciplinary and credentialing options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms
  • Denial of Credentials.

3. Applicant denies chemical dependency and fails to undergo the requested addiction evaluation. Disciplinary options include:

  • Denial of Credentials.

F. First Time Positive Pre-Employment Urine Drug Screen (UDS) or a Positive Random UDS for Credentialed Ministers (assuming no other credential, employment or legal related indicators)

1. Credentialed minister admits chemical dependence: If eligible for CAMRO, offer CAMRO. If not eligible or declines entry into CAMRO, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials and intensive treatment at least as rigorous as the CAMRO program and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency: Investigative review should include an employment review for at minimum the previous (5) years, a review of any legal history in addition to motor vehicle history, and an addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide for an expert assessment of potential risk to public and to identify recommendations, if any, for treatment. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and no previous credentialing, employment or legal related indicators are identified.
  • Probation: No treatment is recommended but the addiction evaluation recommends monitoring UDSs to further assure that there is no ongoing use of chemicals.
  • CD Probation, (3) years: Addiction evaluation recommends treatment.
  • Credential Revocation: Addiction evaluation assesses high potential for risk.

G. Second Positive Pre-Employment UDS and/or Random UDS

1. Credentialed minister admits chemical dependence: If eligible for CAMRO, offer CAMRO. If not eligible or declines entry into CAMRO, disciplinary options include but are not limited to :

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials and intensive treatment at least as rigorous as the CAMRO program and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency: Investigative review should include an employment review for at minimum the previous (5) years, a review of any legal history in addition to motor vehicle history, and an addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide for an expert assessment of potential risk to public and to identify recommendations, if any, for treatment. If there are no previous credentialing, practice or legal related issues, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms
  • Denial of Credentials: Addiction evaluation assesses high potential for risk.

3. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency and the investigation identifies that there are previous licensure, practice and/or legal related issues, the disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Denial of credentials

H. Positive Urine Drug Screen Obtained “For Cause”

1. Credentialed minister admits chemical dependence: If eligible for CAMRO, offer CAMRO. If not eligible or declines entry into CAMRO, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • CD Probation (3 years) including suspension of credentials and intensive treatment at least as rigorous as the CAMRO program and monitoring of status. Restoration of credentials pending the completion of treatment and a (3) year CD Probation.

2. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency and based upon the investigative findings, there are no previous credentialing, practice or legal related issues: An addiction evaluation should be obtained to provide for an expert assessment of potential risk and recommendations, if any, for treatment. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms.
  • Credential Revocation

3. Credentialed minister denies chemical dependency and based upon the investigative findings, there are previous licensure, practice and/or legal related issues. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Decree of Censure: No treatment is recommended and employment review does not reflect indicators of drug/alcohol related symptoms.
  • Credential Revocation

I. CAMRO Discharge Disciplinary Options

1. CAMRO discharge related to non-compliance with treatment, UDS, failure to submit documentation of required reports…but no direct evidence of chemical relapse.

Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Revocation

2. CAMRO discharge related to failure to notify/disclose to employer participation in CAMRO. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Revocation, stayed, with at minimum, (12) month suspension and to include further evaluations and treatment. Upon successful completion of stay of revocation, a (3) year CD probation.
  • Revocation

3. CAMRO discharge related to relapse.

a) If no evidence of diversion or a non-compliant attitude, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Suspension pending further evaluation(s) for treatment and pending 12 consecutive months of compliance. Upon successful completion of suspension, a (3) year CD probation.
  • Revocation

b) If evidence of diversion or a non-compliant attitude, disciplinary options include but are not limited to:

  • Revocation

J. Summary Suspensions should be considered under the following circumstances:

1. The credential holder is currently employed and/or unwilling to stop ministry and there is evidence of current use of drugs/alcohol.

2. There is evidence of multiple violations of the credential holder’s current terms of probation/CAMRO with a high potential for public harm.

3. The credential holder has a cognitive or psychiatric impairment, resulting in the documented inability to function in the ministry setting and/or a recent evaluation that documents a potential for high risk to compromise public safety.

The above guidelines do not attempt to identify all categories of potential chemical dependency and/or abuse but rather identify the most common categories of complaints. The disciplinary guidelines related to chemical abuse and/or dependency may be modified.

© 2013 Nathan Davis

 

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