Nearly 10% of Full-Time Works Abuse Alcohol and Drugs Annually

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Illicit drug use in the United States is costing businesses big time. The Addiction Center estimates the drug epidemic costs American companies $81 billion each year in lost productivity, safety issues and other liability risks.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance-using employees are not only more likely to hop from job to job or be late or absent from work, they’re also more prone to workplace accidents that can harm themselves or others and result in a workers’ compensation claim.

“While it is not an employer’s responsibility to manage employees’ substance use problems any more than other medical issues, employers are responsible for ensuring a safe and productive workplace environment for all employees,” said Tammy Hoyman, CEO of the human services non-profit Employee & Family Resources, Inc.

If you’re thinking about implementing a drug-free workplace, here are a few things to consider.

Is it required?

With nearly 10 percent of full-time workers abuse alcohol or drugs annually, it may come as a surprise that very few businesses are required by law to drug test employees.

While federal employees and industries with “safety sensitive transportation employees” — such as aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, etc. — are required by federal law to conduct drug and alcohol testing, most other businesses are free to choose to screen for drug users or not. Keep in mind, drug testing laws vary from state to state, so check with your small business attorney to make sure you’re in compliance.

What does it cost?

Small business attorney Mindy Wolf said the cost of drug testing can sometimes be prohibitive for smaller enterprises. According to the OHS Health & Safety Services website, costs for drug screening employees can vary significantly based on what types of lab analysis you’re running and how often you’re testing.

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