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Drugs in the Workplace

Employed drug abusers cost their employers about twice as much in medical and worker compensation claims as their drug-free coworkers.

  • Alcohol and drug abuse has been estimated to cost American businesses roughly 81 billion dollars in lost productivity in just one year—37 billion due to premature death and 44 billion due to illness. Of these combined costs, 86% are attributed to drinking. 74% of illicit drug users are employed.
  • In 1997, over 6,000,000 employees were threatened in the workplace.
  • Drugs account for as much as 80% of losses due to theft in the workplace.
  • Of those who called a cocaine helpline, 75% reported using drugs on the job, 64% admitted drugs adversely affected their job performance, 44% sold drugs to other employees, and 18% had stolen from coworkers to support their drug habit.
  • Individuals who are current illicit drug users are also more likely (12.9%) than those who are not (5%) to have skipped one or more work days in the past month.
  • Results from a US Postal Service study revealed that employees who tested positive in a pre-employment drug test are 66% more likely to be absent and 77% more likely to be discharged within three years than those who tested negative.

Everyone involved in running a business, both employers and employees, suffers when there is workplace alcohol and drug abuse. Some costs are obvious, such as increased absences, accidents and errors. Others, such as low morale and high illness rates, are less so, but the effects are equally harmful.