One thing I've discovered since starting a Houston drug and alcohol screening business is that a lot of people get uncomfortable when they find out what I do for a living. At trade shows and business luncheons I have been dubbed by associates as the "Buzzkiller" because when people approach me and see my name tag or business materials, they stop in their tracks, laugh or smile awkwardly and sometimes even turn and walk away. We've watched people throw up their hands and say things like, "Oh boy! Don't arrest me, I've only had one," or "We need to stay away from you or we'll get in trouble!"
It is both amusing and frustrating. People who aren't familiar with my profession tend to assume I must be "out to get" anyone who takes a drug or drinks.
If I'm attending a business cocktail function it gets especially ridiculous because people at happy hour don't want to be chatted up by someone carrying a Breathalyzer! (I'm not going to pull it on you at a party, but I could get called to do a post-accident drug test at anytime, so yes, I usually have one handy). For the record folks, I'm not here to judge you and I'm not counting your drinks!
The interesting thing about this in the business sense is what it says about our work cultures. Even companies who have Drug-Free Workplace programs in Houston admit to finding the idea of drug and alcohol testing somewhat objectionable, but they do it because "they have to."
Perhaps it's time to consider how companies present drug testing policies to their employees here in Houston. Have you ever asked employees what they think of your drug testing policies? Do they understand why you do it? Would they even be honest enough to tell you what they think, or would they be afraid that honesty could get them fired?
Five Statistics To Make You Think Twice About Drug Testing in Houston
Drug testing in the workplace shouldn't be about judging or finger pointing -- it's about maintaining a safe environment and supporting health and wellness. One look at statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2012 study will give you an idea of why we should all be concerned about the abuse of alcohol and drugs in Houston and across the U.S. According to SAMHSA:
- 9 million Americans are illicit drug users, 9.2% of the population 12 and older
- 9% of full time employed Americans were drug users, up from 8% in 2011.
- 5% of part-time employed Americans were drug users
- 5% of the population reports heavy drinking (defined as binge drinking on at least 5 days of the last 30 days)
- Overdose deaths involving prescription opioid analgesics have increased to almost 17,000 per year--doubling drug poisoning deaths in the U.S. from 2001 to 2010.
In particular, the huge increase in deaths involving prescription opioids is alarming. In the last decade, the death rate increase coincided with a nearly fourfold increase in the use of prescribed opioids for the treatment of pain. Combine the prescription drugs with alcohol or other medications -- even some over-the-counter products and you have a recipe for disaster.
Is your Drug Free Workplace policy explaining the hazards of binge drinking or abuse of both prescription and illegal drugs? Is it supporting employees with a way to get help through either an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or a second chance program? Or, is it in place just to "catch" the offenders--the ones who are probably just "troublemakers" anyway? Ask yourself if it might be a good time to take a look at the drug testing policies and see if they are about finding fault or supporting wellness.