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Survey Reveals Most Drug, Alcohol Abusers Work Full-Time


Most illegal drug users and abusers of alcohol hold full-time jobs.

That is the finding of a study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency in the U.S. Department of Health and

Six Ways Substance Abusers Cost Employers

A substance abuser employed by your organization can hurt the bottom line in many ways.

Robert M. Stutman, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has spelled out six of them:

1. Absenteeism. The abuser is absent from work three to five times more than the non-abuser.

2. Productivity loss. According to Stutman, abusers operate at 68 percent of their productivity ability.

3. Stealing. About 40 percent of pilferage losses are linked to substance abusers.

4. Medical costs. Substance abusers use medical benefits (often paid for in whole or part by the employer) five times more than other employees.

5. Accidents. About 35 of every 100 workplace accidents involve substance abusing employees. Substance abusers are involved in workplace accidents at twice the rate of non-abusers.

6. Lawsuits and Workers Comp claims. Substance abuse related accidents lead to liability lawsuits and workers compensation claims. Increased claims raise the employer's Workers Comp premiums.

Human Services. The study involved collecting data over a two-year period from 128,000 full-time employed individuals, ages 18 to 64. It also revealed that workers who use illicit drugs are less likely than nonusers to be employed by companies that have drug or alcohol testing policies and programs.

For purposes of the study, illicit drug use is defined as using one or more of the following substances during the past month: "marijuana/hashish, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription psychotherapeutics used non-medically."

Heavy alcohol use is defined as "drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days."

Here are some highlights of the study:

What's an Employer to Do?

There are several steps organizations can take to help protect themselves, including:

Worst and Best Industries



Food preparation, serving 17.4
Construction, extraction


Arts, entertainment, sports, media 12.4
Sales  9.6
Installation, maintenance, repair  9.5
Farming, fishing, forestry  8.7
Transportation, material moving  8.4
Building/ ground cleaning, maintaining  8.2
Personal care and service  7.7
Office and administrative support  7.5
Production  7.4
Life, physical, social science  7.0
Engineering, architecture, surveyors  6.9
Mathematical, computer science  6.9
Management  6.1
Healthcare practitioners and technical  6.1
Financial  4.9
Legal  4.8
Education, training, library  4.1
Community, social services  4.0
Protective service  3.4



Construction, extraction 17.8
Installation, maintenance, repair


Food preparation, serving 12.1
Transportation, material moving 11.2
Sales 10.2
Production   9.7
Building/ ground cleaning, maintaining  9.5
Farming, fishing, forestry  9.5
Protective service  8.7
Engineering, architecture, surveyors  8.3
Management  7.9
Arts, entertainment, sports, media  7.5
Office and administrative support  6.9
Financial  6.2
Mathematical, computer science  5.9
Legal  5.9
Personal care and service  5.4
Life, physical, social science  5.3
Healthcare practitioners and technical  3.9
Education, training, library  3.7
Community, social services  2.8

[NOTE: Information and guidance in this article is intended to provide accurate and general information on the subjects covered. It is not intended to provide a legal service for readers' individual needs. For legal guidance in your specific situations, always consult with an attorney who is familiar with employment law and labor issues.]

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