Drug Abuse

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Drug Abuse Safety Talk

Drug abuse is a major problem both in the United States and around the world. A 2018 study published by the CDC found that an estimated 11.7% of Americans aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is estimated even higher today due to an increase in the use of opioids and marijuana. Drugs can cause many different problems at work in regard to production and safety depending on the kind of drug, the individual, and the level of abuse.

The Cost of Drug Abuse for Employers

drugs in the workplaceDrug abuse is costly for employers in the United States. It is estimated by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., the cost of drug abuse is over $81 billion annually. A lot of money is spent on drug testing in an attempt to hire sober individuals upfront and to discourage drug use while employed. Employers spend money on these drug tests in an attempt to prevent costly absenteeism, loss of production, and injuries. Despite the drug testing by employers, NCADD estimates that 70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed. It is important to everyone’s safety and the company’s bottom line that workers do not use illegal drugs both on and off the job.

Effects of Drugs at Work

Drugs affect an individual’s ability to reason, motor skills, and decision-making abilities. Depending on the drug a user may also be more inclined to take risks. Individuals can also experience an altered mood or aggression towards other coworkers. Due to the impairment that drugs can have on a person, it is important to report any odd or suspicious behavior to a supervisor. The supervisor will work with HR or another higher level of management to monitor the individual and take further steps if needed.

Common Signs of Drug Use in the Workplace
(source: NCADD.org)

  • Tardiness/sleeping on the job
  • After-effects of substance use (hangover, withdrawal)
  • Lower job performance
  • Poor decision making
  • Loss of efficiency
  • Theft
  • Having trouble with co-workers/supervisors or tasks
  • Loss of focus


When an individual comes to work under the influence of drugs, it is a huge safety concern for everyone on that job site. Also, when companies lose a lot of money due to the indirect and direct costs of drug abuse in the workplace, it hurts everyone in the company. Upgrades to equipment, pay raises, bonuses, and better benefits could be out of the question at some companies due to drug abuse. Speak up when you think one of your coworkers is suffering from a drug abuse problem.

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