The pandemic has seen increased drug abuse by corporate employees including up to 4x more abuse of opioids or amphetamines. As 2021 comes to a close and businesses are resuming normal operations, it’s more important than ever to implement a strong drug and alcohol testing policy in the workplace.
Why the Increase?
After national crises, such as Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnam War or 9/11, there is often a dramatic increase in drug abuse. The coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns, have led to similar situations and now drug test positivity rates are on the rise. Fueled by the rise in stressful conditions (isolation, financial challenges, health issues, etc.) individuals are turning to self-medicating to try and cope. Corporate drug testing positivity rates have soared, and with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, this trend is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. With many employees having fully remote positions, random drug testing is still critical because remote employees that might abuse drugs, now have a lower barrier to abuse.
When comparing corporate employee positivity rates to all employees, corporate employees are up to 4x more likely to abuse opioids or amphetamines.
Additionally, amphetamine positivity rates have been higher than marijuana in two of the last four quarters for corporate employee random drug testing with no signs of slowing down.
Why is this important?
A common misconception among employers is that since corporate employees are not in safety-sensitive positions, they don’t create a risk in the workplace. Corporate workplace abuse STILL results in liabilities and risks, such as
• Erratic/inconsistent work quality
• Poor concentration and lack of focus
• Lowered productivity
• Increased absenteeism and theft
• Increased healthcare costs and workers comp claims
• Carelessness, mistakes, or errors in judgment
• Disregard for the safety of self and others, on-the-job, off-the-job accidents
• Driver accidents
Additionally, employees often have access to confidential company documents and information, and you don’t want an employee to be handling these while under the influence.
What Does This Mean for Employers?
According to data pulled from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and more, substance abusers COST employers, and:
• They are responsible for 35% of all absenteeism and are 5x more likely to be absent.
• Perform at only 67% of their potential – making them 1/3 less productive.
• Account for 40% of all theft in the workplace.
• Cause 38-50% of all workers’ compensation claims.
• Each substance abuser costs employers an average of $7,000 per person/year.
When comparing data for those in safety-sensitive industries, the Current Consulting Group (CCG) estimates the cost is closer to $35,000 per person/year due to higher costs of downtime, injury, and loss of performance.
How Can DISA Help?
Employers can better protect their workplace as corporate drug testing rates continue to increase and the pandemic rages on by implementing a comprehensive drug testing program. Using multiple methodologies is not only standard best practice, but it also eliminates any gaps in drug use. For example, urinalysis used in combination with hair testing can detect both recent usage and lifestyle usage by expanding the drug detection window up to 90 days.
Employers should also educate employees on the dangers of drug abuse, raise awareness of random drug testing programs in place, and take preventative measures to enhance safety and compliance in their workplace. It’s also important for supervisors and other appropriate employees to train for reasonable suspicion drug testing practices to help further eliminate drug abuse in the workplace. DISA’s professionals can assist you with building and implementing a drug testing program that’s custom to your company’s needs.
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About DISA Global Solutions
Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background check, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.