Last updated: October 19, 2020
How costly is drug abuse? The federal government suggests at least $11 billion dollars is spent on drug treatment and other healthcare costs each year. At least $61 billion dollars comes in the form of criminal justice costs like investigating, prosecuting, and incarceration of offenders as well as victim costs. It’s far more costly to US businesses and the economy.
The White House says $120 billion dollars a year is lost in labor participation costs, drug abuse treatment, lost productivity, and the incarceration or death of substance abusers. 67% of drug users over the age of 18 have a job. That means they’re in the workplace somewhere, but how can you tell if they’re working for you?
Have a plan
What kind of plan? A very specific one, of course. You should have a drug free workplace policy and a plan in place already that screens for drug abuse among your employees. There are plenty of options available on how clean you wish to keep your business and no plan is ever a guarantee, but the number one best way to tell if your employees are abusing drugs is to use a drug test.
It’s certainly not that simple. You have to make sure you set up a plan that is legal and fair and though you have options when it comes to your workplace, you might not have many if your profession deals with the Department of Transportation (DOT). States and municipalities have different laws though there are resources available to companies hoping to navigate the rough waters of drug testing on their own, the absolute best, safest, and surest way is to consult with a company that can not just test employees, but specializes in setting up the plan from start to finish.
Mobile drug testing companies can have multiple benefits. When one such company works for several different companies and travels, they have to be well-acquainted with the latest laws. In addition, by planning on using a mobile testing company, business owners can count on the testing to be done much more efficiently than it would if employees had to be sent out to a brick-and-mortar lab. The best of those companies also offer services such as employee training and consultations to set up the right plan from the beginning, rather than trying to go it alone and staying on the right side of the Department of Labor and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To protect yourself and your company you have to document everything. This is extremely important if you’re hoping to do something with the information you’re seeking. By following a plan set up with the aid of a professional service (like one that may be offered by the right mobile drug testing company), you can be sure that you’ll know what to document, how to document it, and how to make that work in concert with the results of drug tests you’ll receive.
Suspecting someone is not enough and suspicion is certainly not the same as confirmation. You’re going to want to look for signs, certainly, but that could come first in analyzing productivity, past and present. Maybe an employee who performed well in the past has suddenly shown evidence of a lack of concentration and is more accident prone. Maybe there are mood changes, an altered appearence, or work relationship problems to blame—or maybe those are symptoms of a greater problem lurking. Whatever the cause, drug users report missing almost twice as many days as non-substance abusers.
There are tips on spotting addictive behavior available (often on the internet), but not only does much substance abuse go on at relatively unobservable levels early on, it’s dangerous to rely only on such observable methods and pointless to do so without having a plan to do something with the information once it’s observed. The surest, most legally sound and effective way to tell if an employee is a substance abuser is to drug test.
Follow the plan
One additional part of the process is one many would think would be the easiest, but is often the place where the process breaks down. Once you have a plan you have to stick to it. Part of being able to drug test and tell if your employees have a substance abuse problem is making sure that you implement the testing program fairly. Regular drug testing might deter most of the drug use, but it’s not going to eliminate it completely. You may have an employee test positive that you value greatly, but if you treat that employee differently from one you don’t, you’re not doing your business any favor. For that reason, you might want to have resources such as an Employee Assistance Program in place which will provide some compassionate care in some cases. Setting one up can be done when implementing a total testing program with the help of the right service provider. Drug testing certainly can reveal substance abuse, but only if there is follow through with the plan.