The Cost of Employee Drug Use

The cost of employees using drugs is far greater than one might think at first thought. Perhaps this prospect of associated costs of employee drug use is demurred by the fact that many employers subject their employees to random drug testing and pre-employment drug screening. However, this, contrary to popular belief, does not cause many persons who are using illicit drugs to refrain from using them merely because they were offered a job.

Additionally, while many employers do mandate drug screenings prior to and during a term of employment, many also do not. And, drug screenings are not infallible, meaning that there are some unscrupulous methods that drug users take to defeat them. Lastly, some drugs – such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin – are only present in the system for so long. On that basis, if an employee is aware of the dates on which they will be subjected to a urine drug test – which most often is not something extensive and revealing, like a hair follicle drug test – they can better prepare to pass that test if they think that they might fail it.

So what are the costs of employee drug usage?

What is the impact of employee drug usage? It’s far greater than most people presume.

According to recent statistics, nearly 12-million people in the United States are currently using or abusing illicit substances, which can denote any kind of a drug. Far more are frequently using or abusing alcohol. Out of these 12-million persons, just over 9-million of them are employed at a job, either full time or part time. According to an expert study that was conducted as a Firestone Study, employees who are currently abusing or even using drugs are absent about five times more than employees who are not. Furthermore, the cost of employees using or abusing illegal drugs costs the United States nearly $250-billion annually due to the loss of productively.

It is important to note that these numbers lean greatly upon those who are abusing alcohol, which is a legal substance. About 60% of these productivity numbers actually stem from alcohol abuse, and not illegal drug abuse. Luckily there is even alcohol drug testing you can do on-site the minute you suspect an employee is drinking alcohol at work. So when you break down the real numbers, nearly $100-billion dollars is lost every year in productivity at the workplace due to the abuse of illicit drugs. Some additional studies have also demonstrated that most people who are using these drugs use them for recreation, and are not considered to be addicts.


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