Last updated: October 2, 2023
If someone working for you is using drugs their co-workers would most likely be the first to suspect it. Drugs have different effects on people, but, as a rule, if someone is behaving oddly those who are around them on a continual basis notice. Workplace drug abuse—which includes employees having knowledge of drug deals happening on site—is an ongoing problem across America.
If you doubt that, we’ve got two statistics that will open your eyes in a hurry. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 68.9% of all drug users are actively employed in the workplace. Moreover, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported that one-third of all employees are aware of illegal drug sales being conducted in the workplace.
Your best line of defense
Your employees interact with each other throughout the work day. As mentioned above, they would be the first to realize that someone is acting out of character in some way. Perhaps someone begins having frequent accidents when up to that point they had been very meticulous about following safety protocols.
Other signs that may be early detection of drug use are exhibiting erratic behavior or trying to mask intense feelings of aggression. Using drugs impairs decision-making abilities and physically impairs people as well.
Other notable signs include:
- Dilated pupils
- Slurred speech
- Extreme mood swings
- Glassy eyes
- Noticeable exhaustion
- Frequent absenteeism
If you operate a drug-free workplace, it’s a well-known fact that drug abuse won’t be tolerated within your company. Still, drug abuse leads to addiction and once that happens, the driving need for more can override common sense. Hopefully, employees wouldn’t hesitate to report any suspected impairment to their supervisor.
Education is key
You may have already had your employees participate in a class that will teach them to recognize the signs of drug abuse. If you haven’t—or if it’s been a while—consider getting one scheduled. Should a certain company handle your drug testing program for you, they may offer employee training as well. If not, a quick search online can yield a number of nearby companies from which you can choose.
This would be a good time to go over the dangers of drug addiction in general. It could cause someone to decide that they will never use drugs because the risks just aren’t worth it.
Employee training should include recognizing the signs of drug abuse, as well. Moreover, it should include what to do if drug use is suspected. Knowing how to handle a situation when it arises can give your employees the confidence to follow through with company protocol. Once the matter has been brought to a supervisor’s attention, the employee isn’t responsible for anything after that point.
When supervisors get involved, they act as a buffer from that point forward. That means that employees don’t need to fear retaliation from a co-worker with a grudge.
Well worth the cost of a class
Detecting and dealing with anyone who uses drugs in the workplace is going to save you money. Workplace drug abuse costs employers a fortune! Productivity levels drop, absenteeism rises, and higher medical costs ensue because drug abusers go to the doctor a lot. Drug users change workplaces a lot too. The expense of training and re-training for the same position adds up quickly.
Drugs in the workplace mean that there’s an increased risk of workplace accidents too. It’s a proven fact that these accident rates drop once companies begin operating under a drug-free workplace program.
The National Safety Council (NSC) created an online calculator that allows you to get an estimate of how much drug abuse and addiction may be costing your business. It’s a great tool and can help you look for ways to not only identify but assist any employees struggling with drug use.
Is your workplace drug-free?
Large companies are more apt to have drug testing protocols in place as part of a drug-free workplace program. Smaller companies, however, aren’t as likely due to the cost factor. Drug testing isn’t cheap, but there are ways to work around the expense to a large degree.
We’ll explain, okay?
Over-the-counter tests are fairly low in cost, and if you were to buy in bulk even cheaper still. Most employees don’t use drugs. When you take that fact into consideration, there’s really no need to incur the expense of laboratory testing for each and every employee. Instead, you could use the over-the-counter tests, then, if someone has a positive result, have them report to a testing facility for a more thorough testing process.
When word hits the streets that your company drug tests, odds are in your favor that drug users aren’t even going to apply. Still, go ahead and hold that employee training class. It shows everyone that you’re serious about enforcing your new company protocol. Your employees are going to feel more secure while at work.
There are other benefits too and they are:
- Increased morale
- Reduction in employee theft
- An increase in productivity
- A reduction in employee turnover
- Decreased cost of insurance, such as workers’ compensation
Employees who feel safe and secure at work are less likely to move on to seek other positions. That sounds like a great step toward a workplace that operates as one big happy family! That’s a win-win for all involved.