Unknown circumstances can cause people to change their behaviors, causing them to do things out of their usual personality traits, and some of these things can be harmful to themselves, their families, and their workplaces. With employers keeping an eye on these changes, we can protect our workers in hard times like we are facing now.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES act, and increased unemployment, businesses will have to deal with spikes in drug and alcohol use in their workforce. This isn’t conjecture or doomsaying; rather, this is a prediction based on historic trends and current findings. In the case of widespread change and tragic loss, people turn to drugs and alcohol for solace. There were spikes in drug and alcohol use after Hurricane Katrina locally, and nationally after September 11. Research shows a similar spike in drug activity from then to now, with high stress, anxiety, and fear causing an increase in the usage of drugs and alcohol to cope. There is research showing that from this global pandemic, COVID-19, there will be at least an extra 65,000 deaths from alcohol and drug-related overdoses, along with suicide over the next 10 years.
It is more important now than ever that companies continue random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident drug testing to keep their employees and the integrity of their company safe.
Increased positive rates
Before the COVID-19 pandemic even began, drug and substance abuse rates were climbing due to the legalization of marijuana all over the country, while the pandemic leads to more unprecedented stress these percentages are likely to rise over the next few months to a year. On average, the positivity rate of drug testing (marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids), has increased by approximately 37.8% in the month of May 2019 to May 2020. This spike is linked directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After COVID-19: Continue testing
Even after the pandemic, there will be long-lasting effects that employers need to take into consideration, in order to keep their employees healthy and safe. Substance abuse is something that will need to be watched closely as states begin to reopen and people begin coming back into workplaces. Drug testing procedures need to be in place to ensure all employees are tested before they come back to work. Providing a pre-employment test will be helpful in preventing positives while hiring later on in months following the pandemic.