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 Drug use in the workplace affects everyone, through increased insurance costs, more accidents, reduced productivity, and decreased profits.

The majority, about 77 per cent, of drug abusers are employed, according the American Council for Drug Education.   The non-profit drug education group records that one worker in four, age 18 to 34, has used drugs in the workplace in the past year.  One third of U.S. workers see drug sales in their work environment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that people in the United States consume 60 per cent of the world’s illegal drugs produced.  According to statistics:

23 million in the U.S. use marijuana at least four times per week

18 million abuse alcohol

6 million use cocaine on a regular basis

2 million use heroin.

Drug dependency includes more than just the men and women addicted to heroin, cocaine, crack or marijuana.   Workers who use and need drugs throughout the day are at one end of the spectrum of drug use.  Physical addiction means the body suffers symptoms of withdrawl when denied a drug.  But psychological dependency is just as destructive, because users cannot control their need for drugs.

Substance abuse takes different forms, covering a range of behavior, including heavy drinking, weekend binges, daily use of marijuana during work breaks and abuse of prescription drugs while the user is at work.

Workers who use drugs or alcohol have diminished ability to meet family, social or vocational obligations.

There is a negative impact on the job site among abusers who don’t indulge in the workplace.  Those who use drugs:


  • are 10 times more likely to miss work
  • 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents and 5 times more likely to injure themselves or others
  • 5 times more likely to file a workman’s compensation claim
  • 33 per cent less productive
  • have higher health care costs in general

Employers face increased risk from abusers, who are 5 times more likely than other workers to cause injuries.  About 40 per cent of all industrial fatalities are due to persons using some form of drug.

This increased risk holds true for those operating machinery under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Any level of drug use compromises reflexes and judgment.

In short, workers under the influence of drugs increase the workloads of other workers, they have lower productivity, and they compromise product quality.  They damage morale and can tarnish a company’s image.

Abusers threaten everyone’s job security because they reduce competitiveness and profitability, and their absences and health care demands cause increased costs to employers.