America’s drug problem continues to invade the workforce and millions of people work alongside drug abusers every day, raising their risk for workplace injuries. Approximately 77 percent of Americans over the age of 18 who use illegal drugs are currently employed in at least a part-time capacity. It is estimated that about 9.4 million people in the American workforce use drugs, but the numbers are likely much higher.
The Growing Problem With Drug And Alcohol Abuse In American Workplaces
Drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Americans buy and consume approximately 60 percent of the entire world’s supply of illegal drugs. In just one month, 9.7 million Americans will use marijuana and 1.9 million will use cocaine. Since almost eight out of ten illegal drug users are employed, those numbers indicate that the majority of workplaces have a drug abuser in them. Although most employers implement employee drug testing programs, the results are often inaccurate because tests are not performed properly and employees can trick the tests by avoiding drug use when they know a test is coming.
Alcohol abuse is another issue that increases the risk of workplace injuries, and 16 percent of emergency room patients who were injured at work failed Breathalyzer tests according to one hospital emergency room department study. A federal survey found that 24 percent of workers admit to drinking on the job.
Drug Abuse Is A Problem For Employers And Employees
Drug abuse has many implications in the workplace. It lowers the morale of co-workers, increases the chances of having trouble performing work tasks safely and leads to poor decision making. Drug abusers often arrive to work tired and lacking proper alertness to do their jobs well. This increases the likelihood of workplace injuries. When workplace accidents occur as a result of drug abuse, they are often fatal or life-altering. Work injury lawyers in Chicago often find that drug abuse was an underlying factor in the injuries their clients sustain.
The solution to the employee drug problem is not a simple one. Increased drug tests can help, but only if the testing is accurate and random. Employees should take measures to report suspected problems, and management must understand what to do if an employee is suspected of drug abuse.