How to Use Soberlink: The Appropriate Clinical Response to Positive Tests

February 20, 2018
How to use Soberlink: Part 4

If you’re using, or plan to use, Soberlink as part of your clinical practice, it may relieve you to know that you won’t have to do a lot guess work to get started. A group of doctors and treatment industry experts have were brought together to determine the most effective way to use Soberlink in a clinical setting.

In this series, we’ll look into the key decisions made by that expert panel and how those decisions could affect the way you implement Soberlink with your patients. One element of the panel’s best-use recommendations is what to do in the event of positive tests.

The Myth

“Positive tests should result in immediate punishment.”

Positive tests are defined as a series of submitted tests that indicate alcohol consumption. But as serious as a positive test result may be, leading with punishment is often not the best path. In fact, the most beneficial response may be an assessment followed by an adjustment to treatment or care.

The ideal use of the Soberlink System is as a tool to support long-term recovery. And just like with missed tests, using a system of punishment, rather than one of clinical evaluation and reaction will create the hostile environment that is toxic to recovery.

Just like missed tests, a positive test can be seen as an opportunity to reevaluate patient and program needs, request additional testing, or intervene in the worst case scenario.

However, this is not to say that there shouldn’t ever be consequences. Positive tests can undermine any type of monitoring program. If consequences are appropriate and in the best interest of the patient, then the clinician should address those possibilities as well as any adjustments to a care plan.

The Expert Panel’s Recommendation

The panel unanimously decided that positive test results should be followed by immediate clinical action, including but not limited to, contacting a patient’s support group, clinician’s immediately contacting the patient either by telephone or in person and set up a face-to-face meeting, and possibly increasing the frequency of monitoring.

While the panel agreed that immediate action should be taken, they decided to leave the actual adjustments to the monitoring plan up to the clinician since they can more adequately determine individual patient needs.

Because these instances are serious and vary in the level of severity, the panel stressed the importance of taking into account the prior history of the patient, the point during treatment at which the positive tests occurred (early in the program or after a significant period of sustained sobriety), and whether or not the patient self-disclosed the drinking episode. Again lending priority to the clinician’s assessment of the situation and preferred plan of action.

In some cases, Soberlink monitoring is used in more sensitive situations, like treatment programs for licensed professionals. In these types of cases the panel suggested that positive test results might mean removal from work, reevaluation, and the consideration of residential or day treatment.

The Bottom Line

The experts are unanimous that positive tests should be treated as clinically significant events and be dealt with quickly in order to avoid further issues and get the recovery program back on track.

The first instance of a positive test is an opportunity to address monitoring and treatment plans and be sure that they’re still meeting the patient’s needs. After all, recovery is ongoing and should be treated as such. Finally, if a second, or more, positive test result occurs this may require more serious clinical intervention.


How to Use Soberlink Four-Part Series


About The Expert Panel & Consensus Paper

The expert panel was comprised of physicians and experts with extensive experience and current knowledge of alcohol use disorders and the addiction treatment industry. The expert panel was assembled to discuss and reach consensus on the best use of remote monitoring in a recovery setting. A paper of their findings was written and published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. All decisions made by the expert panel were reached by organic consensus and have been determined to be the absolute best practices when using the Soberlink alcohol monitoring.

About the Author

Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.

Learn More About Soberlink

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