The annual Drug Testing Index from a lab service provider discovered that in 2017 the use of illicit drugs among the workers in the United States remained high. Analysis of more than 10 million drug test results found that 4.2 percent of the US workforce tested positive. That rate has  not changed since 2016.

Three years ago, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. found alarming figures on the effect of alcoholism and drug abuse in the workplace.

Across various industries, one-fifth of workers reported that colleagues’ drinking had jeopardized their safety. Another study showed that workers who tested positive for drug use incurred a 45 percent higher absentee rate than co-workers who tested negative. Drug-positive workers are also 40 percent more likely to be dismissed.

The declining productivity of workers who suffer from alcohol and drug abuse disorders causes downtime, delayed or missed deadlines, and decreased project completion rate , to name a few. These consequences not only affect the company, but the country’s economy as well.

Therefore, companies are encouraged to set up policies that will safeguard workers and the integrity of the workplace.

How to Implement a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Many employers establish drug-testing programs which aim to determine the extent of drug use among employees or prospective workers, and to prevent drug use to ensure a safer, more productive and healthier workplace. Companies may use direct and indirect methods to detect alcohol or substance abuse. Here are the most common direct methods used:

  1. Biochemical analysis – Companies may require their employees to submit themselves to a regular urinalysis. However, this usually detects the most recent use and not the frequency.
  1. Self-report – Companies may require their workers to report the frequency of alcohol and other drug use. However, this will be very limited because workers may not disclose information to avoid being subjected to disciplinary actions.

Meanwhile, companies may also use indirect methods to observe the behaviors or responses of workers that are usually related to alcohol or drug use. This method may complement the information gathered through direct methods.

Aside from these, companies may also craft their own drug-free workplace policy which may include:

  1. Prohibition of use, possession, or sale of both legal and illicit drugs and alcohol or prescription medication without a prescription, in company premises or while on duty.
  1. Prohibition of use, possession, or sale of both legal and illicit drugs and alcohol even when off-duty, if this  will affect the worker’s performance or puts the safety of others and the reputation of the company at risk.
  1. Prohibition of being impaired or under the influence of legal, illicit drugs, or alcohol even when off-duty, if this will affect or influence the worker’s performance or puts the safety of others and the reputation of the company at risk.

How to Handle Employees That Currently Have Some Kind of Addiction

Companies with employees suffering from drug and substance abuse may consider an intervention by encouraging the individual to seek professional help.

Work-based intervention is handled by trained professionals. Employers may contact a counselor from the Employee Assistance Program or EAP to help them efficiently address the problem.

Many alcohol rehabilitation facilities and drug rehab centers offer treatments that fit the needs of employees suffering from addiction. Workers whose cases are not severe may opt for outpatient rehab programs to continue going to work while attending rehab. Inpatient treatment centers on the other hand, provide close monitoring for those with severe cases of alcohol and drug abuse.

The important thing is to intervene at the earliest time possible. Companies that have an effective drug-free workplace policy can help workers regain productivity levels and confidence.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.