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Employee Drug Use – How to Help Your Organization

The liability for employers due to employee drug abuse can be staggering.  In addition to breaking the law, try $75-$100 billion per year forked over by employers due to employee drug use, according the U.S. Department of Labor.

So if you’re imagining a drug user as homeless and on the street, think again!  73 percent are employed and there may be one in your workplace right now!  Many drug abusers are addicted to prescription drugs.  Drug use compromises attendance, performance and behavior, and even more important – safety.

Pre-employment drug screening policies are one of the best deterrents.  Local occupational health facilities may provide you with a tour to learn about their pre-employment drug testing program.  Most common is urine testing and it is also less costly.  However, blood and hair testing are valuable as well.  You will usually obtain results within 24 to 48 hours.

What leads to drug abuse?

For many it begins with chronic pain and use of prescription pain medication that is highly addictive, such as oxydocone.  Of particular problem to note, however, are the effects of stress on modern workers trying to keep up with expenses and workloads.  Some employees hold two jobs plus have families and get little sleep.  They may have problems at home, and begin making poor coping decisions.  Add to this a high rate of diabetes, obesity and chronic fatigue and perhaps the stage is set for use of addictive stimulants such as cocaine to get through each day.  While they may be high functioning for a time, there is a breaking point.

Employers can learn a great deal about drugs and drug use statistics and treatment centers at Drug Rehabs.  They report: “Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin…produces its pleasurable high by interfering with the brain’s pleasure centers where such chemicals as dopamine are produced.

Major signs of cocaine use are

*red, bloodshot eyes,

*Runny nose or frequent sniffing

*Change in eating or sleeping patterns

*Change in groups of friends

*Change in performance and behavior (school or work)

*Withdrawn, depressed, tired, or careless about personal appearance

*Loss of interest in activities, family, work, school

*Frequently in need of money

Addiction is a serious disease with major consequences.  If you have an employee, or leader in your organization that has performed with high marks, yet you suspect drug abuse, it is well worth having access to support systems that can assist them with recovery.  You will save an employee, money, but most importantly, a human being who has lost their way for a time.  While that may seem like “soft” business practice, perhaps it’s time for some compassionate business practices.  The more people begin to understand that addiction is not the same as mental illness, that it is progressive if not stopped, and that it is due to genetic aberration causing a disease, the more it will be dealt with differently.

Citing hope for a “cocaine antidote” is a press release from the American Chemical Society, which will be having its annual convention at the Philadelphia Convention Center August 19-23, 2012.

Awareness is a real beginning.  Often it isn’t just the addict that is in denial.  Addiction is a touchy and very difficult issue to address.  It may very well be an issue that has been pushed under the rug in your organization.  Remember that addiction is a separate issue from mental illness and don’t get the two mixed up.  Get the facts to help your staff and organization.  Resources include (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAP Association)

Employee Drug Use – How to Help Your Organization

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