Workplace Drug Abuse

Sixty percent of the world’s illegal drugs are consumed by American drug users. Two million Americans use heroin, six million use cocaine, 18 million have alcohol abuse problems and an estimated 23 million people use marijuana at least four times in a week, according to the American Council for Drug Education.

Of all drug users, 74.8 percent are employed and active in the workplace. This means that 12.9 million individuals actively use drugs in the workforce, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Using drugs impairs decision-making abilities as well as physically impairs people. This is a deadly concoction when on the job. In fact, between 10 and 20 percent of American workers who die at work have a positive result when tested for drugs or alcohol. A study by OSHA states that the most dangerous occupations, such as mining and construction, also have the highest rates of drug use by their employees.

Employers suffer from hiring substance abusers in many ways. Not only do they run the risk of having deadly or dangerous accidents occur, but substance abusers also cost employers money and hurt them financially. Substance abusers are proven to be poor quality employees who:

  • Have poor work performance
  • Frequently call out of or arrive late to the workplace
  • Frequently change workplaces
  • Struggle with productivity
  • File for workers’ compensation claims and benefits

Prevention of such problems occurs by implementing an effective workplace drug program that deals with drug testing before hiring, drug testing during employment and consequences for violating the rules. Large businesses are most likely to have such programs, with from 68 percent to over 74 percent having them in place, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 1

While large businesses typically have assessment or drug-testing programs in action, many smaller businesses cannot afford to do so. This is a critical error, as drug users will generally apply only at places that do not have mandated drug testing. Drug testing and educational programs have been proven to provide benefits such as:

  • Increased morale
  • Decreased workplace accidents
  • Reduced employee theft
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Decreased cost of insurance, such as workers’ compensation
Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 2

In essence, drug programs are worth the cost of running them to employers. They provide a safer environment for employers as well as increase the productivity of existing employees, which boosts revenue. If you need assistance with a program or suspect drug abuse in the workplace, contact us on (800) 943-0566.

Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 3

How to Create an Effective Program

An effective workplace drug program establishes a list of procedures to follow with regard to illegal drug use, such as testing, prevention and how to handle infractions of the policy. This should be an informative list that is detailed in nature. Rules and expectations should be thoroughly explained within the text. The ideal program both enforces a no-tolerance policy as well as acts as an outlet for those who may have a problem and would like to seek help. The term “illegal drugs” should be precisely defined in the text.

A quality employee-assistance program should be made available to those who feel they may have a problem as well as those who feel they’re developing a problem. A quality assistance program will offer services such as counseling to deal with substance-abuse problems. Unfortunately, only 53 percent of workers were aware of any assistance programs their workplaces offered, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

These programs are put into action by familiarizing supervisors with the procedures. Be sure that all supervising staff members are knowledgeable of the drug code that is to be enforced. All supervisors should be comfortable with the material and readily able to answer questions pertaining to it. Supervisors should also know the signs and symptoms of drug abuse.

After the supervising staff members are comfortable with the material, it is their task to begin educating other staff members. All staff members should understand the program and understand what drug rules exist as well as any details about drug testing and drug assistance that is available to them. Educational programs that could be beneficial to employees include:

  • Drug awareness day
  • Written material about substances and substance abuse
  • Videos pertaining to drug use in the workplace
Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 4Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 5

How to Know if Someone Is Abusing Drugs

Drugs have different effects on people. Some signs can be confused with common illnesses, while others are very obvious. Coworkers who frequently have accidents, exhibit erratic behavior, and have dilated pupils or slurred speech may be exhibiting signs of intoxication. Extreme mood swings, paranoia, glassy eyes and noticeable exhaustion are also signs of drug abuse. Frequent absenteeism is another sign of drug use. The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates that absenteeism of drug users is 66 percent higher than other employees. If you notice these symptoms, it is time to tell a supervisor.

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Workplace Drug Abuse Quiz question 6

What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Using Illegal Substances

If you feel that someone in your workplace is using illegal substances, you need to tell a supervisor as soon as possible. This can either be a manager, a member of the security team or a human resources officer. You can do this privately or outside of work if it makes you more comfortable.

Never feel that you are risking a coworker’s job. This is the biggest reason that employees withhold their suspicious, and this is a deadly mistake. By not telling someone, you are contributing to the likelihood that an accident will occur. Reporting your suspicions could also force the addict to seek treatment.

If you feel that you have a substance-abuse problem, do not suffer in silence. Please call (800) 943-0566 to speak with someone who can help.

Close Workplace Drug Abuse
  • Drug users are found to be more what on the job?
  • Drug programs implemented in companies have been proven to what?
  • Telling your supervisor of suspected drug use in a coworker does what?
  • What is an effective program for educating employees about substance abuse?
  • What does an effective drug policy for a company include?
  • What are signs of drug abuse in users?
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