Opiate and drug abuse is going on all around you, and you may not even be aware. The opiate problem is at epidemic levels and nothing seems to be slowing it down. The normal idea of what a junky looks and acts like has long since changed. Addicts these days are not found in an alley behind an abandoned building. They very well could be working right next to you without you ever knowing. Drug abuse in the workplace is starting to become a major problem. According to statistics from International Communications Research’s “ThinkSmall” Survey, 1 in 10 small businesses have had had employees show up for work while under the influence of at least one controlled substance in the past year.
This should not be a surprise to anyone as the rate of drug abuse has been climbing over the past decade. As the rate of drug abuse increases, so does the liability that addicts present to businesses. Many addicts must continue their use of opiates in order to prevent withdrawals. If the withdrawal symptoms begin, the abuser will look like they are suffering from the flu and would most likely have to leave work due to their sickness. Many employees can not afford to take off 7-10 days, so they continue taking their drugs while they work. This leaves many companies open to safety and liability issues.
This should scare many employers and make them look into drug testing in the workplace. It is very important to have a zero tolerance rule for your company and random testing is a recommended way to keep quality control over your employees. From a liability stand point, if your employees operate heavy machinery or work with dangerous substances, it is in your best interest to not have employees under the influence. You do not want someone who is abusing painkillers or heroin to make decisions on behalf of your company. They may not be thinking rationally and their actions may be hazardous to your company.
In the construction field there are accidents that happen all the time dealing with heavy machinery. It is a very dangerous field and I have a lot of experience working in it. It is not unheard of for employees to use drugs while operating machinery which can easily be deadly to those around them.
A strong education program is always your best option for your employees. Handing out employee handbooks with guidelines about drug testing and having your employees sign it will help to lower some of the risks. Make it clear to your employees that if they do have an issue, that you want it brought to your attention so that they can help them through the process. If your employee knows that their company cares, they will be more open for treatment and help. Drugs do not belong in the workplace and if they are, the results can be disastrous.