Drug Testing pre-employment drug screening employee health

Drugs in the workplace: What you need to know

Employers in the United States have a problem: One in every 12 employees in the U.S. struggle with substance abuse. These employees may be essential to your business, but their abuse is costing you through productivity, absenteeism, and increased healthcare costs.

There is a solution to help mitigate this risk: you are key in recognizing and stopping substance abuse. Every untreated case of substance abuse can cost employers $3,200. In 2018, the opioid crisis alone cost employers $696 billion in 2018. And, according to recent data, these numbers have deteriorated farther since the beginning of COVID-19 in March 2020.

If you’re curious how much substance abuse is costing your business, check out this substance abuse calculator from the National Safety Council.

According to a recent survey from the National Safety Council about employee drug abuse

  • Over 75% of employers have been affected in some way by employee opioid use, with 38% experiencing impacts related to absenteeism or impaired worker performance
  • Only 17% of employers believe their organization is extremely well prepared to deal with opioid use in the workplace
  • While employee training and education is a main driver of preparedness, only 28% of employers offer opioid-specific training and education to their workforce

What employers can do to make a difference

There are three key things an employer can do to make a difference in their workplace when it comes to substance abuse. In combination, these three things are a powerful deterrent to drug abuse and offers help to those who are currently burdened by substance abuse.

Be informed

Many employers, even in these times, choose to live in ignorance, believing that their employees, who are often like family, do not struggle with substance abuse. Time and time we have seen this story played out in drug testing—the grandmother who tests positive for amphetamines, the 20 year employee who swears he has never touched marijuana but tested positive, the young employee who swore he could pass the drug test and failed.

The only way to truly know who is under the influence of a substance is through drug testing regularly and without bias.

Drug test

Consistent onsite drug testing can deliver an ROI as high as 400 percent. Drug testing programs implemented at a company-wide level and consistently executed will help you to identify who is struggling with substance abuse. Are you ready to see a real return on investment from your business’ drug testing program? Download our free, comprehensive guide to on-site drug and alcohol testing to learn everything you need to know in order to plan a testing event at your place of work. 

Consider substance abuse support

Many employers choose to offer a substance abuse treatment option for their employees. If this is the route you choose, ensure that evidence-based treatment mechanisms are covered by employer health care plans. It is always the employer’s choice whether to offer employee assistance programs, but if you do, you must then support them as they return to work. You may also choose a zero-tolerance policy. If this is your choice, make sure it is clearly spelled out to employers before employment begins.

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