Creating A Drug Free Workplace

Creating A Drug Free Workplace

The economic cost of drug abuse is significant. In 1998 the annual costs associated with drug abuse stood at $143.4 billion. By 2007 costs had reached $193 billion.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 set federal guidelines for a Drug-Free Workplace program, providing a way for employees to get help for themselves or for coworkers. Drug free workplace programs help employers diminish the impact of substance abuse, as well as promote workplace safety.

June is National Safety Month, and the National Safety Council has dedicated the first week of the month to prescription drug abuse prevention. In line with that theme, here are some tips for encouraging a drug free workplace.

Recognizing Problems

Sometime it can be difficult to recognize substance abuse in a coworker. Take a look at some typical warning signs to help you determine whether your coworker may need help:

Slow reactions, unsteadiness, confusion

Many controlled substances are sedatives, which shut down the nervous system. They can hinder a person’s thinking, judgment, coordination, and ability to perform their job duties.


When the nervous system is impaired, it can lead to safety hazards like misuse of equipment, carelessness and neglect of safety regulations.

Frequent Accidents

Substance abusers are up to five times more likely to injure themselves and those around them than non-abusers.

Absences & Tardiness

Studies have shown that drug abusers used three times as many sick days. Those who suffer from substance abuse may also arrive late to work on a consistent basis.


Problems may show up as a pattern of missed deadlines, poor concentration, critical errors in judgment, and lack of attention to details on the job.

Declining Performance

Drug abuse can occupy much of an abuser’s attention, causing their work to suffer.

Getting Help

There are help services and resources available for those who suffer from substance abuse. Resources include:

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Substance abuse is not an issue to be taken lightly. Not only does the abusing individual suffer, but so does work productivity and overall company safety. If you suspect that a coworker is suffering from drug abuse, let your manager know so they can make sure your colleague gets the help they need.

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