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Drug Addiction in the Workplace

Drug use and drug addiction in the workplace is a problem that can affect anyone – even if you have never used drugs before the actions of someone who is intoxicated at work could impact you. This could be in the form of injuries or accidents, or it could be in the form of lost time and productivity from people that use drugs. However, while most employers have strict anti-drug policies, many also offer addiction and alcoholism treatment programs via employer-sponsored insurance. And in some cases absences to undergo treatment can even be covered under the FMLA or Family and Medical Leave Act.

Because drug addiction is a human problem that knows no social or economic bounds, it’s not surprising that there are large numbers of people that drink or use drugs while at work, arrive for work while under the influence, or perform job duties while otherwise impaired. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “Nearly 19 percent of full-time employed 18 to 25 year olds and 13 percent of 26 to 34 year olds had used illicit drugs in the month prior to the 1988 .” (1) In the case of the former statistic that amounts to nearly 2 out of every ten workers in that age group. And while the industries affected most often by this trend include construction and food-service related companies, drugs users and alcoholics can be found at nearly every type of job.

The economic impact of drug use by employees is huge. According to the National Drug Free Workplace Alliance, “The overall cost of illicit drug abuse is estimated to have been $160.7 billion in 2000, and 69 percent of these costs are from productivity losses due to drug-related illnesses and deaths.” (2) This figure represents more than the gross domestic product of many countries. Even more astonishing is the fact that a large number of workers successful use drugs while remaining undetected, even though their productivity liability still financially affects the companies they work for.

Employees who are under the influence of drugs while on the job are notorious for demonstrating poor performance issues. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “A 2000 SAMHSA study revealed that workers who reported past month illicit drug use were more likely than those who did not report such use to say that: they had more than three employers in the past year (5.7 percent vs. 2.3 percent), they had missed work for more than two days in the past month due to illness or injury (11.6 percent vs. 6.5 percent), and they had skipped work more than two days in the past month (4.4 percent vs. 1.6 percent).” (3) This statement illustrates that drug use in the workplace isn’t just a problem for the user – it’s a problem for everyone.

If you or someone you know has a drug problem in the workplace and you want to get the help, you can call us confidentially right now for a free consultation. We’ll help guide you and provide you with resources and options you might not be aware of, such as an inpatient treatment program, outpatient treatment program, or our extremely successful alcohol addiction recovery program. We’re here 24 hours a day to help you help yourself – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by calling.

(1) National Institute on Drug Abuse Drugs in the Workplace: Research and Evaluation Data Volume II
(2) National Drug Free Workplace Alliance Drug Free Workplace Statistics
(3) Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug Use in the Workforce

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More