An addiction is a mental disorder in which a person is compulsively driven to indulge in a particular activity to the point of self-harm. Addictions can take many forms, including those to substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, narcotic pain medications, nitrous oxide, and many others. One can also be addicted to a process or activity, such as gambling, sexual behavior, or hoarding. However, of course not every person who is arrested for DUI or who gambles is necessarily addicted. The evaluation of the person suspected of addiction includes interviewing by a board-certified addictionologist, psychologist, alcohol/drug counselor, and other professionals skilled in assessing and treating these disorders. Psychological testing and laboratory testing are also often used during the course of these evaluations. We utilize the most advanced testing techniques, including advanced psychometrics, urine analysis for drug metabolites, hair testing if indicated, and laboratory testing of blood to detect biomarkers for substance abuse. The evaluation yields a report concluding whether addiction is present or absent, whether the compulsive behavior is a threat to fitness for duty, the severity of the addiction, any recommended treatment, and suggested monitoring protocols to ensure future safety when the professional returns to work.
There are many illnesses and processes that can affect a person’s ability to think, reason, and remember. Traumatic brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and normal aging are just a few to consider. Many of the professionals referred for evaluation will undergo neuropsychological testing to identify areas of cognitive strength or weakness. We have a state-of-the art neuropsychological testing laboratory available. If appropriate, the professional will also be evaluated by a neuropsychiatrist and/or neurologist during the course of his/her assessment. We have neuroimaging facilities at our disposal to perform brain MRI’s, as well as EEG testing if indicated. The neurocognitive report will yield conclusions about cognitive strengths and weaknesses, their projected impact upon occupational functioning, and a plan for future safety and remediation.
Disruptive Behavior Evaluations
Today’s professional work environment demands a high degree of professionalism and willingness to work with challenging individuals and diverse populations. Professionals often find themselves challenged by demanding or idiosyncratic coworkers, clients, and patients. The challenges can range from getting along with an unpleasant coworker to suppressing sexual urges with a client or patient. Professionals often find themselves in conflict with others or their organization’s administration around issues of appropriate behavior in the workplace. Often personality disorders or other maladaptive behavior patterns of the professional play a role. In other situations, disturbances in the organization itself can create impossible situations for the professional to cope with. Our evaluations address these possibilities. We will identify the source(s) of the problem, its impact upon the workplace, and a plan for remediation.
Pilots must meet very high standards for personal health and functioning to maintain their fitness-to-fly. The FAA, individual airlines, and the pilot’s union have guidelines for addressing potential areas of concern. Neurocognitive functioning, especially those mental processes involving perception, reasoning, judgment, attention, concentration, and memory are especially critical for pilots. Issues of addiction and disruptive behavior are also very salient. We have performed dozens of FAA evaluations of pilots and pilots-in-training over the years. We are familiar with the FAA’s standards and operating procedure for addressing areas of concern. Our state-of-the art neuropsychology laboratory and our experienced staff are valuable resources available to the airline, the regulatory agencies, and the pilot to assure fitness-to-fly.