• Substance Use and Abuse and How It Affects the Workplace


    Substance use and abuse in America is prevalent. In 2007, there were 19.9 million people who were illicit drug users and about 58 million people (ages 12 and over) who participate in binge drinking (5 or more drinks in the same occasion). The numbers show how the workplace can easily be affected by people who use prohibited substances. In order to prevent harm that may result from substance use and abuse there are organizations that implement a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy.

    Substance Use and Abuse in the Workplace

    It is the duty of employers to provide a safe working environment for its employees. Based on the 2007 statistics on drug and alcohol use in America, most drug users and heavy drinkers are actually employed. About 75% of the 19.9 million illicit drug users are employed, while about 80% of the 58 million heavy drinkers are employed.

    There are certain industries that have higher rates of usage compared to other industries. Here are some industries that may be at more risk of having employees with substance use and abuse disorder:

    Drug use and abuse

    • Accommodations and food services industry – 16.9% of workers
    • Construction industry – 13.7% of workers
    • Public administration industry – 4.1% of workers
    • Educational services industry – 4.0% of workers
    • Utilities industry – 3.8% of workers

    Alcohol use and abuse

    • Construction industry – 15.9% of workers
    • Arts, entertainment, and recreation industry – 13.6% of workers
    • Health care and social assistance industry – 4.3% of workers
    • Educational services industry – 4.0%

    These are industries where drug and alcohol use among workers are prevalent. Reported substance abuse was not limited to after work hours. Some industries report that their workers have been impaired by drugs and alcohol during office hours. Workers who were using prohibited substances showed higher absenteeism and turnover rates. Here is how they can affect the workplace:

    • Workers who use illicit drugs or heavily consume alcohol usually work for three or more employers in the past year.
    • They skip work at least twice in a month.
    • They are likely to miss work for at least 2 days because of injury or illness.

    Moreover, it was found that small businesses are most vulnerable to workers who use prohibited substances because they usually do not have policies for drug testing them. Because of this, workers who use prohibited drugs prefer working for small businesses that do not have a testing policy.

    If you own a small business or you have a business in the industry that has a high risk of substance abuse, and you do not have a policy on drug and alcohol prohibitions yet, there are agencies that can help you, like the DATIA and the U.S. Department of Labor. It is important to have a policy that will fight off substance use because of how it can affect your business. You might end up paying more for damages and losing more employees because they are having a hard time working with workers who have a drinking or drug problem.



    Categories: Drug Testing, Workplace Drug Testing

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