The image that comes to mind when talking about people who abuse drugs is often someone who is incapable of holding down a job and who slinks around shady parts of town looking for drugs. But the facts belie that stereotype.
According to a nationwide study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), 70% of all drug abusers in the country are currently employed.
These drug abusers are 10 times more likely to miss work, and 3 times more likely to be less productive than an average worker. They are 5 times more likely to file for workers’ comp and almost 4 times as likely to get into a workplace accident. They cost, on average, twice as much as an average worker with regards to their healthcare costs. And due to all those reasons they tend to change jobs almost 3 times more than the rest of the workforce.
Top Drugs for Abusers
Out of almost 12 million drug tests done in 2011, almost 3.5% came back positive. And while that is a small number percentage-wise, it is a huge number when talking about employed individuals. Because that 3.5% represents about 400,000 workers.
Marijuana was the top drug that people were busted for, with about half of that 3.5% of positive results being for marijuana.
That was followed by prescription drug abuse, which is a concern for both young and older employees. Oxycodone and opiate-based prescription drugs were the top two groups among prescription drugs abused. Prescription drug abuse seems to be a concern mostly for urban, white collar employees. All together they made up about 30% of all the positive drug test results.
Amphetamine and Methamphetamine were the third most common group, making up about 15-20% of positive results.
Also on the rise, and a concern for mostly young people, are synthetic drugs like synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine.
While it may be a tough reality to face, it is obvious that the American workforce is infected with the nationwide plague of drug abuse and the only way to eradicate it is with comprehensive drug testing policies.
Read more about the interview here.