Drug Free Workplace FAQ

What is a "Drug Free Workplace?"

It is an employment setting where all employees adhere to a program of policies and activities designed to provide a safe workplace, discourage alcohol and drug abuse and encourage treatment, recovery and the return to work of those employees with such abuse problems. The intent of the program is to educate adults on the problems relating to substance abuse. The one place where there can be mandated adult education is the workplace. This empowers the individual and the family, resulting in stronger communities.

Why Should An Employer Establish a Comprehensive DrugFree Workplace Program?

Current research indicates that nearly 77% of illegal drug users are employed in full and part-time jobs. Consequently, when the effects of alcohol abuse are added, the result is a large impaired portion of the national workforce. For the typical employer, that means unhealthy employees, unsafe working conditions, loss of productivity, smaller profits, more accidents, higher medical claims expenses, and a host of other negative effects for the employer and the employees.

Small and medium-sized firms employ 80% of the U.S. workforce where drug testing policies & programs are not in place.  Absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and decreased productivity due to alcohol and other substance abuse costs your company $1,000 per employee per year!

You can minimize the chance of having to deal with a serious job performance problem in the workplace, and in the process support a better quality of life for your employees, by implementing a drug free workplace program in your company.  It will reinforce the message to your employees and customers that a positive work environment is a high priority.  The Council can provide you and your company with information and support to ensure your certification as a drug free workplace.

All aspects of society are harmed by illicit drug use; however, the American workplace is especially impacted.  Business owners lose an estimated $160 billion per year because of drug use.  Business owners can expect to pay thousands of dollars more per year to employ a worker who uses illicit drugs than to employ a worker who is drug free.

What Are the Components of a Comprehensive Drug Free Work Place Program?

The "Drug Free Workplace" is a more recent term and concept introduced by the Federal government's policy for its employees in 1986 and promulgated in the private sector by the President's Drug Advisory Council.

A comprehensive approach to having a drug free workplace would include:

  • A written policy
  • Access to assistance
  • Employee education
  • Supervisor training
  • Drug testing

Supported by public opinion, legislation and regulation of safety-sensitive industries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the drug free workplace concept was adopted and promoted by national, state and local organizations of employers and business executives.  Some unions adopted it as well and undertook drug testing of their members and provided "drug free worker" identification.  Written policies assure that all employees have the same understanding of their rights and responsibilities under the program, and that employers administer the program uniformly among all employees.

The Council on Alcohol and Drugs helps companies meet the above requirements after organizations become a drug free workplace and provides the policy, rules and guidelines with support, so that companies can be educated and encouraged to become drug free workplaces.  The Council provides the resources necessary to become, and remain, a drug free workplace.

Why Should I Implement A Drug Free Workplace?

Family Members’ Substance Abuse Affects Workers!!

Slightly more than one-fourth (26%) of employed adults report that there has been substance abuse or addiction within their family and 42% of these workers report that they have been distracted or less productive at work because of it, according to a recent national telephone survey.

Having their mind drift away from work tasks to thoughts of the problem was the most frequently reported work-related problem (89%), followed by missing a deadline or work/attendance suffering (57%) and errors in judgment (46%).

The workers surveyed suggested several ways in which employers could help, such as implementing a drug free workplace program, offering counseling for family members of addicted individuals (73%), providing better health insurance coverage (67%) and providing a more flexible work schedule or time off work (65%).

© 2021 The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.