With all the news surrounding the opiate crisis in the U.S., it won’t come as any surprise that opiates topped the list as the drug that employees used the most while at work. While sometimes legal, these drugs are considered highly addictive and potentially lethal – with or without a valid prescription – and can be detrimental to workers safety.
In an article published in The Business Journals on January 18th, 2018, seven in 10 illicit drug users have used drugs while at work, including opiates, amphetamines and cocaine, according to a survey from treatment website Detox.
Opiates are the most commonly used drug, as 17.83 percent said they had consumed them while at work. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium came in second at 17.05 percent, and amphetamines and cocaine tied for third at 8.53 percent.
Impact of Drug Use at the Workplace
The Department of Labor states that the impact of employee substance abuse is a problem that extends beyond the employee using the drugs. Co-worker job performance and attitudes are negatively affected. This is a result of workers reporting that they have been put in danger, have been injured, had to work harder or redo work, or cover for a co-worker.
Small businesses, with inconsistent or non-existent substance abuse policies, are often the employer-of-choice for illicit drug users. Individuals who can’t adhere to a drug-free workplace policy seek employment at firms that don’t have one. With about half of the U.S. workforce working for small and medium sized businesses with less than 500 employees, this leads to a substantial number of unsafe and unhealthy work places.
Workplace Drug Testing
Just one mistake or accident caused by a worker under the influence of drugs or alcohol can devastate a small business financially. That is why it is so critical that every workplace should be doing pre-employment and follow up random drug testing.
Currently 56% of U.S. employers require workers to take pre-employment drug tests, according to Statistic Bain. This leaves a lot of businesses vulnerable to the mistakes, accidents and injuries caused by drug impaired employees.
National Safety Council (NSC) found healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times higher than for an average employee. Employers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their employees:
- Recognize prescription drugs impact the bottom line
- Enact strong company drug policies
- Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
- Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse
- Treat substance abuse as a disease
- Leverage employee assistance programs to help employees return to work
The annual cost of untreated substance use disorder ranges from $2,600 per employee in agriculture to more than $13,000 per employee in information and communications.
NSC offers a Free Employer Kit that provides information on how to take a more proactive role in addressing opioids in the workplace. For more information go to Free Employer Kit.
Blackbird Clinical Services is a certified drug testing service that can help any employer set up a pre-employment and random drug testing program. Our experience and knowledge regarding these tests ensures that those abusing drugs are not able to prevent detection by using different avoidance techniques. For more on our drug testing capabilities, please go to Drug Screening.
Just give us a call at 765-447-8700 and we’ll be happy to arrange a time we can talk about setting up a program to make your workplace safer and more productive.