Substance abuse contributes to significant disruption in the nation’s workplaces. The leading contributor to absenteeism, tardiness, and on-the-job injuries, the growing presence of drug and alcohol misuse in the United States is not just a factor in widespread domestic problems. According to an EHS Today article, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reported that substance abuse in 2014 cost companies $81 billion in lost productivity, turnover, negative workplace behavior, injury and liability and accidental deaths.
According to NCADD, evidence exists that the presence of substance abusers in any workforce can have a severe negative impact on employee morale. Co-worker discomfort can be most notable in environments where physical safety is a concern.
Legalization of marijuana in several places in recent years has raised concern among many employers and health officials of even greater potential for workplace impairment and the additional problems that could arise. The use of marijuana is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and some officials fear that this development may have a dramatic impact on an already serious workplace problem.
Currently, two groups, the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, are collaborating on a study to determine the expanded safety issues of workplace marijuana usage in conjunction with other longstanding substance issues.
Facts About Workplace Substance Abuse
The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance reports the following statistics:
- 40% of all industrial fatalities resulted from workplace drug abuse.
- Drug users were 3.6 times more likely than non-drug users to be involved in workplace accidents.
- Substance abusers filed claims with company health insurance three times more often than non-abusers.
- 80% of illegal drug abusers steal from their employers to support their habit.
- Substance abuse is the 3rd leading cause of workplace violence.
The NCADD also reports that 70% of employees who use illegal drugs are employed. Individuals who have had at least three jobs in the past five years are twice as likely to be substance abusers than those with fewer job changes.
Fixing the Problem
An important first step to a drug-free workplace is to partner with an experienced drug testing company to counsel and develop a comprehensive step-by-step drug-free workplace initiative that incorporates the efforts of the entire staff.
The drug-free program should start with a clear policy statement, unconditionally supported by management, that describes the expectations, objectives, penalties and remedies for substance abuse. The plan should include a coordinated drug testing strategy for every employee, top to bottom, and testing should be random.
Education programs should be offered to all employees to ensure full employee understanding of the company policy. Summaries of the drug-free policy should be posted in prominent locations throughout the building.
Rehabilitation and retraining programs may be available for offenders to improve both their working and personal life situations.
Drug Testing Programs
Chronic substance abusers are continually concocting ways to “beat” drug testing. A pre-scheduled, off-site drug testing appointment may result in tampering or exchanging samples or other strategies. There is also a risk of employer liability if an impaired employee should have an accident on the way to or from the drug-testing site.
The most efficient drug testing solution is to partner with a proven on-site drug testing company, like USAMDT of Northeast Ohio, which conducts drug sampling randomly. In this manner, employees have no advance notice, the loss of work time reduces, and the samples cannot be compromised.
Eliminating substance abuse in the workplace raises morale and improves productivity and turnover.