Last updated: October 19, 2020
All across America it seems illegal drug use is on the rise. This is especially true for major metropolitan areas, like the city of Atlanta. One of the big reasons the drug problem is so vast is that Atlanta is a shipping hub, making it easy for illegal drug shipments to come into the city. This problem is thoroughly explored in the CEWG Pattern and Trends Of Drug Use in Atlanta in their special 2013 report.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in their yearly report, marijuana continues to be the most used of the illicit substances, even though it’s legal in some areas of the United States. Recreational marijuana is not legal in Georgia, but medical marijuana use is allowed. That being said, other types of drugs continue to be a serious issue that society is facing which affects all industries and walks of life.
This includes illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and speed, but also the abuse of common prescription drugs like Vicodin, Percocet, and even psychotropic drugs like Xanax. Companies can try to get a handle on the situation with their employees by doing one important thing. Drug testing.
All companies in all industries need to drug test their employees, but some industries need to do so more frequently
Pre employment drug testing is the first step to create a drug free workplace, and it’s critical in industries with high drug use, but regular random drug testing is also essential because it helps to discourage drug users from applying since they know they’ll eventually get caught and fired. It also helps to discourage existing employees from using drugs.
In these industries with higher than average drug use, it’s vital that employers take additional steps to ensure their workforce is drug free, safe, and ready to do the best job possible for them.
Drug users aren’t staying home
Here’s a scary statistic—most drug users are employed. It’s estimated that 68.9 percent of drug users are actually active in the workforce. They aren’t staying home holed up in their homes using, they are out there in full force doing their jobs everyday in many different industries.
The industries in Atlanta most affected by drug use are these top three
The industries that are most affected are construction, manufacturing, and the trucking/transportation industries. One of the biggest problems is that in these very blue collar, physical jobs it leaves the workers with a ton of aches, pains, and injuries. Many go on prescribed pain killers to fight against the pain, only to be amazed at how much better they feel doing their jobs. It’s like magic to them, then they get addicted and there’s no turning back.
Plus, on working crews, it’s very much a “buddy-buddy” mentality where everyone looks out for each other and no one has a problem covering up someone else’s use. It’s like a close knit fraternity of brotherhood that way.
Based on a National Survey of Substance Abuse per industry, construction workers have the second highest rate of drug use at 16.5 percent of workers. This is only following the highest rate from employees in the mining industry. Transportation comes in at 8.4 percent, while manufacturing jobs at 9.7 percent.
Drug testing is vital for safety issues
The reason that drug use is such an issue in the workplace for many jobs that require heavy machinery and physical labor is clearly the larger safety issues at play. It’s just not safe for people to be operating these kinds of large equipment pieces, trucks, and other machinery under the influence.
The increased rate of workforce injury, disability, and liability by the companies who employ these high risk users is through the roof. Common workplace accidents are much less likely to happen with employees who are fully aware of their surroundings and actions. People who use drugs have slower reaction times, aren’t going to operate machinery correctly, and that’s when sloppy accidents happen. Some could even be fatal. Long term drug use affects cognitive behavior, decision making skills, and even memory, so it’s clear that these users don’t belong in the workplace until they get the help they need.
How to prevent workplace drug use
As an employer, you have a responsibility to make sure your crews are safe. Plus, you have to trust your employees with all your equipment, bids, and the livelihood of your business. That’s a serious responsibility. Drug testing all of your employees is just one way to make sure that your crews, especially in these types of industrial jobs, are truly trustworthy.
Drugs are a part of today’s society, so checking out what exactly is going on with your employees is going to make it a more safe and productive environment for everyone involved, especially in the Atlanta area where these industries make up a large percentage of the local economy.