Drugs and the Workplace: An Expensive Problem

Alex Krokos

anexpensiveproblem

$81 billion. That’s how much the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD) says drug abuse costs employers annually. This staggering number covers lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft and low employee morale, to an increase in health care, legal liabilities and workers’ compensation costs.

In addition, NCADD reports that drug abuse can cause problems at work including:

  • After-effects of substance use (withdrawal) affecting job performance.
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using substances while at work, interfering with attention and concentration.
  • Illegal activities at work including selling illegal drugs to other employees.
  • Psychological or stress-related effects due to drug use by a family member, friend or co-worker that affects another person’s job performance.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, published in 2014, shows the percentage of American workers testing positive for illicit drugs has increased for the second consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce. The positivity rate for approximately 6.6 million urine drug tests in the general U.S. workforce increased overall by 9.3 percent, while overall positivity rate for oral fluid and hair drug tests, representing approximately 1.1 million tests, increased between 2013 and 2014 in the general U.S. workforce.

With 70 percent of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs being employed and the marijuana legalization trend showing no signs of slowing (23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form), it’s time for employers to prepare for and address the expensive impacts of these trends.

So, what can employers do?

The straightforward solution is to promote and maintain a drug-free workplace. Employers with successful drug-free workplace programs report improvements in morale and productivity, decreases in theft, accidents, downtime, absenteeism, turnover and theft. They also report better health status among employees and family members and decreased use of medical benefits by these same groups.

Ensure your substance abuse screening process is streamlined by working with EmployeeScreenIQ. We protect your organization throughout the entire process with same-day results, electronic scheduling, scheduling services, site mapping, on-site testing, random testing management tools and more. Check out our full list of services by heading over to the Substance Abuse Screening page.

Alex Krokos
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Alex Krokos

Marketing Specialist at EmployeeScreenIQ
Alex has a strong track record of success in content development, graphic design, social media management and relationship building for more than five years. She began her career as a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant, where she lead projects from conception to completion for organizations in multiple B2B and B2C verticals and helped integrate and launch emerging marketing into small businesses. She has also worked as an account executive for a Cleveland-based public relations firm.
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