Employee Drug Tests: How Companies and Workers Benefit

Employee Drug Tests: How Companies and Workers Benefit

Illegal substance abuse in the United States is increasing dramatically. According to a recent study conducted by Columbia University’s center for substance abuse, the emotional pressure and tension caused by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, combines with the growing threat of internal and external bioterrorism, have helped increase the number of American adults looking for alcohol and drug abuse treatment.

The study also reveals that acceptance for these kinds of treatments increased by 10% to 12% nationwide. According to the chairman of the NCASA Center and former United States Secretary of Health, Welfare, and Education, Joseph Califano, the increased demand for illegal substance abuse treatment corresponds with the highest consumption of illicit substances and alcohol.

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The bad news is, the increase in unlawful substance use shows up in almost all facets of society, especially in the workplace. Around 75% of current drug users, 18 years old and above, are commissioned. That is more than 10 million workers in the United States. Regularly, based on more or less 200 workdays per year, at least 40,000 adults are coming to work under the influence of an illegal substance or using drugs while working.

In fact, according to a national survey, 75% of 1-800-COCAINE hotline callers used illicit substances while on the job. The government also claimed that if workers ages 18 to 40 were subjected to a random drug screening, as many as 25% would get a positive result.

What do workers know?

Workers know that illicit substance use on the job can create serious problems and that substance use can affect workplace safety, job performance, as well as affect other work-related activities. According to a 1996 survey conducted by a certain foundation, more or less 60% know people who go to their work under the influence of illegal substances or alcohol.

And at least 62% of workers who participated in a study said they know someone whose drug use has impeded with their jobs. In a series of surveys, the majority of the test subjects said that drug abuse in their company either somewhat affects various work-related activities.

Screening workers for illicit substance use are usually conducted for post-rehabilitation, random screening, post-accident, pre-employment, and return-to-duty. Employees who are using illegal drugs usually test positive for cannabis. It is by far the go-to substance of most employees in the United States.

According to laboratory reports, 60% of employees who undergo drug screening tested positive for cannabis, and 16% tested for cocaine. The recent rise of heroin use all over the United States is showed in the 9% positive rate in opiate use. Amphetamine use is at 5%, followed by benzodiazepines at 4%, barbiturates at 3%, propoxyphene at 1.6%, methadone at 0.41%, and PCP or Phencyclidine at 0.34%.

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What companies want?

According to surveys, the companies usually favor employees’ drug screening, especially in safety-sensitive tasks, at 95%. The majority of companies also prefer testing the office staff at 69%, health care workers at 92%, and factory employees at 82%. Not only that, the majority of organizations favor testing their employees in their own jobs at 78%. Organizations want a safe work environment.

The use of illicit drugs contributes to a hazardous and unsafe work environment. Illegal substance and alcohol are accountable for one of six on-the-job deaths. Based to the Safety Council report, 80% of workers injured in drug-related incidents and accidents in the workplace are not the user but the innocent co-workers and people around them.

The big question is: Do these screening tests reduce accidents?

A lot of workplace studies estimate the accident rates in the workplace before and after carrying out substances. Many screening indicates that it is indeed a significant safety factor. One of these studies shows the execution of an illicit substance screening, accidents resulting in serious injuries dropped from 2,200 accidents a year before introducing screening to more or less 300 accidents after four years of implementation of the employee DOT drug testing program.

It represents a 70% decrease in om drug-related incidents and accidents. The study indicates the impact of testing and what it does in accident rates among organizations of all sizes, in every industry. Not only do companies want a safe work place, but they also want a very productive work environment, where employees are performing their tasks competently and safely.

Drug assessment is a contributing factor to help improve work performance. A strict testing plans deserves a lot of credit for improving job performances that companies are experiencing after implementing these programs. In addition to falling accident rates, employee tardiness, absenteeism, employee theft, as well as behavioral issues, usually decrease with the maintenance and implementation of screening programs. Staff morale and productivity rise with improved staff attendance, improved performance, and attention to detail in their work.

The same goals

Workers and organizations share the same objectives. Both employer and employee want to see the firm succeed, and both understand that for them to succeed, it needs to be competitive, as well as deliver on the organization’s bottom line. Ventures that don’t screen their employees for illicit substances can attract candidates who can’t obtain employment in other organizations because of their substance abuse problem.

Screenings make sure that the hiring of an effective workforce. In return, it will result in a better ROI or Return on Investment in screenings that outweigh the program’s cost. These programs support a more productive and safer work environment, which employees want to work in. Maintaining a high level of productivity, morale, and safety benefits both organizations and employees.

Common signs of alcohol and illicit substance use

Performance issues like:

Poor judgment

Missed deadlines


Increased mistakes

Reduced productivity

Absenteeism and poor attendance

Excessive use of leaves

Unexplained disappearance from the job

Always complaining

Marital problems

Money problems and bankruptcy

Disregard for the safety of people around them

Watery and bloodshot eyes

Unsteady gait



Lazy disposition

Sloppy work result

Deterioration of personal appearance


Donald Phillips