Drug Testing Screenings occupational health

What's in the Cup? The hidden risks of a high-functioning alcoholic.

Do you perform drug tests as part of your pre-employment screening or have an ongoing screening program?  Many people hear the term “drug test” and think their only purpose is to detect hard-core street drugs like cocaine and heroin, or that they're used as a deterrent for recreational drugs like marijuana, but they can detect much more.   Besides the array of illegal drugs that people assume will show up in a drug screening, misuse of legal drugs, like prescription medication and alcohol, can also show up.

Alcohol Can Be More Dangerous Than Narcotics

The problem with alcohol, is that it is legal, culturally accepted, more accessible, and alcohol abuse is easy to hide.  Recognizing the erratic behavior of an employee who is high is easy when compared to trying to detect a high functioning alcoholic.  High-functioning abusers often appear sober and can hide alcohol in a water bottle or their morning cup of coffee. The very fact that alcohol abuse can go undetected and for long periods of time, is what elevates it to a high-level risk.

“I Could Really Use a Drink.”

The use of alcohol in the workplace, may be easy to hide, but it also offers the best promise for detection. When employees spend long hours together for possibly years at a time, it creates an opportunity for one employee to take notice when a coworker is too preoccupied with the subject of alcohol, frequently expresses a need for alcohol or shows signs of impaired behavior

Create a Supportive Environment

Train your employees to know the signs of alcohol abuse. Because drinking is so commonplace in our culture, blowing off unusual behaviors in fellow workers is a frequent mistake. Even when everyone recognizes the behavior, it can be mischaracterized as nothing more than a character flaw or office gossip. With employment assistance programs and a focus on building cooperative culture within your workforce, you can create a safe space for employees to help their coworkers connect with programs designed to confront and combat addictions that can lead to tension among employees, or worse, serious workplace accidents.

Alcohol use cost US companies between 33-68 billion dollars each year in increased insurance, healthcare, and lowered productivity and attendance costs

The Real Costs of Worker’s Compensation Claim

Speaking of workplace accidents, when they occur, everyone gets hurt. Not only can an impaired employee harm themselves or persons who work in their immediate vicinity, the financial loss to your business could be costly in the form of worker’s compensation claims, lawsuits or other costs that can lead to layoffs or closures. When an accident occurs and you have reasons to suspect that the accident resulted from on the job intoxication, a reasonable suspicion test should be conducted. Of course, ongoing drug tests can prevent accidents from occurring in the first place!

Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace accounts for 65% of on-the-job accidents


Company Policy - Put policies in place that make it clear that drug and alcohol abuse cannot be tolerated, while also laying out a clear and mutually agreed upon disciplinary policy for those who violate the policy.

Up to 50% of all workers' compensation claims are related to the abuse of alcohol or drug

Company Culture - Foster a supportive environment where employees work together and know they can rely on the support of one another when days are hard. This can be done with the occasional company events - ones that do not provide alcohol.

Employees who drink heavily or who abuse or are dependent on alcohol can undermine a workforce’s overall health and productivity

Company Programs - Alcoholism is a disease and certain persons may be genetically predisposed to its effects. For employees who do suffer from an addiction to alcohol, implement a program that encourages and promotes rehabilitation and re-onboarding for those who’ve successfully undergone treatment.

Workers who have recovered from an addiction and are no longer using drugs or alcohol miss less days for medical problems than workers without addictions

Get a Program In Place Today

Are you ready to get started on providing drug and alcohol testing programs that will promote a safe and alcohol-free environment? We are experts on drug and alcohol testing and can

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