Last updated: January 18, 2021
Drug use can be very common in a workplace that does not screen for drugs at the time of employment. This can cause many problems among the employees, including decreased productivity, and problems for the employer should illegal activity begin to occur on the job site.
Employers are liable for all activities that happen on their job site. While many drug users will not use drugs in the workplace, should usage occur on the property, the owners could be heavily fined. If drug deals begin to occur on the property as well, the building could be subject to police investigations, more fines, and possible prosecution.
Many studies show the effects drugs can have on the human brain. The immediate effects are usually loss of common sense, decreased productivity due to distractions, and extreme changes in behavior. This makes it difficult for work to get done on time and is bad for the company image.
Drug testing is the best way to defer drug use at work. Tests should be administered when the new employee is hired, when they are suspected of drug use, and at random. This will ensure that new employees haven’t used drugs in the past week or month depending on the test and current employees know that they will be tested and possibly terminated if drugs are found. Drug testing shows that there are consequences to doing drugs while being employed with the company.
The most common illegal drug is marijuana, which is known as the “gateway drug.” Harder drugs are also becoming increasingly popular among young adults. Substances containing substituted cathinones, such as “bath salts,” have similar effects of cocaine and are still legal in some states. The ban on bath salts, for example, is only active in 41 states and has been recent. This means that the drugs are still easily obtainable on the market.
Drug abuse is not just limited to illegal drugs. Prescription drugs and alcohol can also be addicting and can have adverse effects when used at work.
The most common prescriptions that are abused are pain killers, such as Vicodin, and mood stabilizers, such as Xanax. Heavy pain killers are often prescribed after a major accident to ease pain and work as an anti-inflammatory. Being on these types of drugs for long periods of time do not necessarily indicate an addiction, so long as they are continued to be prescribed by a doctor.
Mood stabilizers are used mostly to treat anxiety disorders but can be taken by people who do not have the prescription. This usually results in the opposite effect taking place. Ritalin, for example, is a methylphenidate, which has a similar effect of speed. For people with issues with concentration, it makes them more focused, attentive, and less anxious. However, when someone who does not have this type of disorder takes the drug, it speeds up the thought process, creates an anxious feeling, and possibly causes hallucinations.
Keeping doctors and adhering to the prescription instructions is the easiest way to avoid these kinds of addictions. Employees can also help to select doctors with integrity who won’t issue a prescription just because they are asked for them.
Employers should also discourage the use of alcohol on the job. Alcohol is generally not considered to be a highly addicting drug and is socially acceptable. People fail to realize that everyone’s body is different and what one person may be able to tolerate another person may react to entirely differently. After drinking a glass of champagne or wine, most people will feel light headed. Continued drinking will lead to lapses in judgment. While this may be appropriate for a party, it is not an appropriate working condition.
Substance abuse is a serious matter and can be disruptive to the work place. As an employer, it is important to recognize the signs of use and issue drug tests regularly. Drugs and alcohol are never appropriate for the work place and prevention is the easiest way to avoid having an employee who is dependent on a substance.