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Substance Abuse & Health

Statistics


Why Should a Company Conduct Drug Testing?

There Are Millions of Drug Abusers in the United States

  • 15.9 million Americans age 12 and older admit to current (in the last 30 days) illicit drug use.
  • 36 million Americans age 12 and older admit to having abused prescription drugs.
  • 12.9 million Americans age 12 and older and 12.4 million adults admit to "heavy" drinking. (5 or more drinks on at least 5 or more occasions in the past month).
  • 2.1 million Americans 12 to 20 years of age admit to being heavy drinkers.

The Vast Majority of Adult Drug Users Are Employed

According to the government's annual Household Survey on Drug Abuse in America, more than three-quarters (76.4%) of all illicit drug users age 18 and older are employed full or part time. That's approximately 16% of the working population (full- and part-time workers combined).

Drug Users Are Not the Best Employees

The federal government reported that drug abusing employees, when compared to non-using workers, are:

  • More Like to Change Jobs Frequently (Turnover)
  • More Likely to Be Late or Absent from Work
  • More Likely to Be Less Productive Employees
  • More Likely to Be Involved in a Workplace Accident
  • More Likely to File a Worker's Compensation Claim

Drug Users Are Unsafe Workers

A study by the US Postal Service found that substance abusers, when compared to their non-substance abusing co-workers, are involved in 55% more accidents and sustain 85% more on-the-job injuries.

Further, the National Safety Council reports that 80% of those injured in "serious" drug-related accidents at work are not the drug abusing employees but non-using coworkers and others.

Drug Users Are Very Costly to Employers

How much does drug abuse cost employers? The US Navy estimates each drug user costs his or her employer an average of $6,600 more than non-substance abusing coworkers each year.

Employees Favor Drug Testing

According to a Gallup survey, employees typically favor drug testing of workers:

  • In Safety-Sensitive Jobs (95%)
  • Office Workers (69%)
  • Health Care Workers (92%)
  • Factory Workers (81%)
  • In Their "Own Occupation" (78%)

Additionally, a survey of business executives underscored the benefits of drug testing from a company's perspective. For example, 77% of the respondents said that since implementing drug testing they were seeing a better caliber of job applicants. A "better public image" was cited by 58%, while 56% said they were experiencing fewer workplace drug problems. Also noteworthy was that 54% had noticed an improvement in employee morale.


Drug Testing Works According to Drug Users

According to a federal government study of full-time employees who admitted that they used illicit drugs, 40% said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted random drug testing, and 30% said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment drug testing.

Drug Testing Saves Money

The US Navy claims that its drug-free workplace program, which includes random drug testing and costs approximately $20 million a year, has reduced the number of sailors who use drugs and abuse alcohol by more than 57%. That equates to a savings of more than $210 million every year. In other words, the Navy claims it realizes a savings of approximately $10 for every dollar it spends on drug testing.

Try this two-step formula to calculate your return on investment (ROI) in drug testing and see how much you can save.

Step 1: Multiply the number of employees at your company by the percentage you think have a substance abuse problem, then multiply that number by the average cost per year for each drug abuser on your payroll to determine the cost of substance abuse at your company.

______________% of your workforce that uses drugs (national average is 17%)

X ______________ Multiplied by the total number of employees at your company

X ______________ Average cost per year for each drug abuser (national average is $6,600)

= $___________ Cost of substance abuse at your company

Step 2: Subtract the total amount that you pay for drug testing each year from the answer you just got calculating the cost of substance abuse at your company.

______________ Cost of substance abuse at your company

- ______________ Cost of drug testing at your company

= $___________ This figure represents your return on investment in drug testing.

Regardless of what numbers you use to complete the formula, your ROI for drug testing will be dramatic in comparison to the relatively small amount you spend on drug testing.

References

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume I. Office of Applied Studies, NHSDA Series H-17, DHHS Publication No. SMA 02-3758. Rockville, MD; 2002.
Current, WF. In Favor of a Drug-Free Workplace: Why Drug Testing? Coral Springs, FL; 1999