Why Drug Test

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One Smart Question...Many Correct Answers

Q: Why should a company conduct drug testing?

A: There are millions of drug abusers in the United States

According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) approximately:
15.9 million Americans aged 12 or older admit to current (in the last 30 days) illicit drug use;
36.0 million Americans aged 12 and older admit to abusing prescription drugs in their lifetime;
12.9 million Americans aged 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); and
2.1 million Americans 12-20 years of age admit to being heavy drinkers.

A: 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 18 and older are employed full or part time… that's approximately 16% of the working population (full- and part-time workers combined).

A: Drug Users Are Not the Best Employees

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

    More likely 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 be involved in a workplace accident; and
    More likely to file a workers' compensation claim.

A: Drug Users are Unsafe Workers

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

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

A: Drug Users are Very Costly to Employ

Q: How much does drug abuse cost employers?

The U.S. Navy estimates each drug user costs his or her employer an average of $6,600 annually more than non-substance abusing co-workers.
A: 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%), and factory workers (81%)… they even favor drug testing of people in their "own occupations" (78%).


A survey of business executives underscored the benefits of drug testing from a company's perspective. For example, 77 percent 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 percent, while 56 percent said they were experiencing fewer workplace drug problems. Also noteworthy was that 54 percent had noticed an improvement in employee morale.

A: 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 percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted random drug testing and 30 percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment drug testing.

A: Drug Testing Saves Money

 The U.S. 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 percent. 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.

______________________________________________________________1.Substance 1.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.
2.Current, WF. In favor of a drug-free workplace: Why Drug Testing?. Coral Springs, FL; 1999.
3.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.
4.Current, WF. In favor of a drug-free workplace: Why Drug Testing?. Coral Springs, FL; 1999.

Courtesy of Laboratory Corporation of America® (LabCorp)