Do You Employ Illicit Drug Users?

The question is do you employ illicit drug users.  Most employers and Human Resource (HR) professionals would say “NO.” Some would say maybe. Very few employers will say YES, I employ illicit drug users.

You would be surprised that if you do not operate as a drug free workplace with drug testing, you probably are employing illicit drug users. We say this because recent statistics from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) surveys show that about 15% of the nations’ workforce are illicit drug users.  In fact, in 2020 over 59 million Americans admitted to using illicit drugs in the past year.

The  2022 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index® (DTI), is an annual report based on the results of more than 11 million urine, hair or oral fluid drug tests conducted at Quest laboratories. The rate of positive drug test results was the highest in 2021 since 2001, with a substantial 30% increase from an all-time low in 2010-2012.  More applicants and employees are testing positive. For combined US workforce drug tests (DOT and Non – DOT) the overall positive rate was 4.6%). 

Your employees may be smoking marijuana but also maybe using cocaine, opioids and other illicit substances.  

Think about your competitors, if they are conducting pre-employment drug testing and you are not; then who are you hiring.  Think about your workplace if you have 50 employees you might have 7 illicit drug users that are employed.  This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.  A study by NORC at the University of Chicago and the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that it can cost you about $8817.00 per illicit drug user on your payroll.

Drug use in your workplace can affect your reputation, productivity and profitability.  Detrimental effects include accidents, high turnover, tardiness, theft in the workplace and workers compensation claims. 

Employers should look to implementing drug screening programs. Your drug-free workplace initiative can be an invaluable tool to strengthen your business and protect your employees from the hazards of alcohol and other drug misuse. The successful components of a drug free workplace program include:

  • A written policy
  • Employee Education
  • Supervisor Training
  • Drug Testing
  • Employee Assistance Programs

National Drug Screening (NDS) offers a free White Paper on creating your Drug Screening Policy. Custom written policies are also available, contact NDS expert professionals for a comprehensive drug free workplace program. 

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