Illicit Substance Screening: Create an Inclusive Environment

Illicit Drug and Alcohol Screening in Recovery Housing > Illicit Substance Screening: Create an Inclusive Environment

Many recovery homes are seeking to provide environments that are supportive of individuals who identify as trans men, trans women, nonbinary, etc.

Additionally, some individuals may have a history of sexual abuse, violence or exploitation. A person’s gender identity or trauma history may have recovery housing operators seeking information about how to best perform specific screenings, including urine screenings.

Inclusive and accepting environments do not deny services to individuals because their sexual orientation or gender identity may make others, including staff, uncomfortable.

All individuals who are performing screenings must be well-trained and understand expectations regarding respecting a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Residents with trauma histories may not feel comfortable acknowledging or sharing this information with others. The following strategies are suggestions to create an environment that is inclusive as well as trauma-informed for all residents:

  • Explain the program’s screening protocols and steps to all residents. Ask all residents how they can be made to feel comfortable and safe during the screening process.
  • Allow for any reasonable accommodation that does not diminish the accuracy of the test. For example, an organization may accept tests that are done at an outside screening location where a person may feel more comfortable, instead of requiring that the screening be performed in-house. Another example is to use alternative screening methods, such as mouth swabs, if they are considered appropriate for the substances to be screened for and available for an affordable price to the organization.
  • If urine screenings are observed, residents may choose the appropriate staff person who is trained and approved to perform services to observe the screening.

Discuss these policies in advance with any individuals who may be involved in the process for illicit drug and alcohol screening. Inform them of the organization’s expectations regarding being welcoming and inclusive to all. Inform staff that they may have to perform screenings for individuals who have different gender identities or sexual orientation than they do. Also, ensure that all individuals involved understand that they may not know an individual’s history and share your organization’s commitment to being trauma informed and supporting individuals who may have had certain traumatic experiences.

Allowing these team members to know your values, ask questions and become comfortable in advance can help you avoid situations arising with specific individuals in the future.