Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that over the past 10 years, 10.2 percent of full-time employed adults and 11 percent of part-time working adults are substance abusers. This number comes to approximately 14 million workers. It’s no surprise that marijuana has been the most popular drug, but recently the use of cocaine and ecstasy have declined, however, the use of prescription painkillers has rapidly increased.
Users are a major strain on company resources and productivity. These people tend to have shorter stints in employment, use more sick days, and show up late more often. Talk about return on assets! Moreover, these losers are more likely to cause accidents on the job and of course health care costs are double that of their drug free colleagues because their ‘chronic’ problems require repeat trips to the Doctor’s office and pharmacy.
Over the past 25 years employers have jumped on the bandwagon of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) as a service to help these drug users. By the way, the HR department is generally in charge of overseeing it. An employee with substance abuse problems can use their employer’s provided EAP on their own initiative (but this rarely happens) or if a supervisor’s suggests it. At most companies, if employees fail a random drug test, or one ordered after a finding of reasonable suspicion (like an accident), they are often required to contact the EAP as a condition of employment. It is very likely that if the use of the EAP is not required, most people will not take the initiative to use them.
Even with zero-tolerance and screening policies, employers are accepting the safety risks, productivity losses, and surmounting health care costs that substance-abusing employees bring to work. Why? Because using an EAP is easier than actually trying to solve the problem, and there is a shred of hope that it might work…maybe, but not really.
Using EAPs simply show that an employer is ‘trying’ to help, but the employer knows that EAPs are rarely effective. When selecting an EAP, employers need to be aware of how programs utilize statistics in marketing pitches and decisions in selecting an EAP should never be based solely on price. Very few EAPs produce measurements that offer a clear picture of how well they find and handle substance abuse cases. Therefore, employers need to demand such measurements, because these metrics will enable them to monitor performance. If an EAP can’t provide this, then it would be wise to continue searching.
A well-built EAP can be incredibly effective, but the employer must be committed to using it. It’s a simple choice, and if an employer works to make its EAP accountable and commit to constructive confrontation, an employer will be successful purging a drug culture and rejuvenate the organization.
Drug addicts suck! In my experience, here are some clear signs right off the top of my head that a person is up to no good:
· Takes breaks frequently, often away from their workstation
· Complains about the brightness of the lights in office
· Misplaces their debit card in the restroom
· Saves drinking straws, cuts it short with an angle at the end
· Listens to music at high volumes, gets upset when asked to turn it down
· Has a constant case of the munchies
· Introverted, not very social with coworkers
· Often displaying paranoia or deep worry when personal questions are asked
· Sneaky, very cautious behavior around those in authority
· Leaving premises on a lunch break and returning with a drastic change in attitude
· Unusual knowledge and understanding of narcotics and prescription drugs
· Limited eye contact, feeling of guilt
· Bloodshot eyes and new excuses for the reasons why
· Regularly late, with wild and off-the-wall excuses
· Forgetful in performing routine tasks
· Complains about room temperatures, how it’s always hot
· Strong use of perfumes and colognes
Take it from me, do everything you can to keep drug users from being hired or remaining on payroll. Designing a policy to drug screen will reduce on-the-job accidents and worker compensation costs. If you do random drug tests, you’ll greatly reduce these liabilities and increase productivity because drug testing sifts out the careless slackers who are more prone to stealing and causing accidents.
I’ve personally noticed an improvement in morale at work from a commitment to provide a safe and drug-free work environment. It mainly stems from keeping employees out of the cumbersome situation of covering for lit coworkers.
While concrete evidence supporting drug testing's potency in thwarting employees from using drugs is insubstantial, one cannot discount the fact that eliminating a bona fide pot head, or prescription drug addict, has a positive effect on the bottom line.