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Small Businesses Are Most Vulnerable

When it comes to workplace substance abuse, small businesses have major disadvantages and are quite vulnerable. They are less likely to have programs in place to combat drug abusers, yet they are more likely to be the “employer-of-choice” for illicit drug users. Employees who are unable to adhere to a drug-free workplace policy seek employment at companies that don’t perform pre-employment drug testing (or don’t have policies in place). The cost of one error caused by an impaired and/or under-the-influence employee can seriously devastate a small company.

Among the population of full-time employed current illicit drug users:
• 44 percent work for small establishments (1-24 employees)
• 43 percent work for medium establishments (25-499 employees)
• 13 percent work for large establishments (500 or more employees)

No business, regardless of size or location, is immune to the countless problems that drug abuse can cause. Most individuals who abuse alcohol, prescription medication, and illicit drugs are employed; and when they arrive for work, they don’t leave their problems at the doorstep of their employer’s business.

Just look at the statistics:

• Although the rate of current illicit drug use is higher among unemployed individuals, 77 percent of current illicit drug users in the US are employed.
• An estimated 6.5 percent of full-time and 8.6 percent of part-time workers are current illicit drug users.
• An estimated 6.2 percent of adults working full time are heavy drinkers.
• More than 60 percent of adults know someone who has reported for work under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

You Bear the Brunt of the Problem
Everyone involved in owning and operating a business pays for workplace alcohol and drug abuse. Some costs are obvious, such as higher insurance premiums, increased absences, accidents and errors. Others, such as low morale and high illness rates, are less apparent, but the effects are equally harmful both economically and to the reputation of the organization.

• One in five workers report that they have had to work harder, redo work or cover for a co-worker, or have been put in danger or injured as a result a fellow employee’s drinking.
• Up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and 47 percent of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism.
• Alcohol and drug abuse has been estimated to cost American businesses roughly 81 billion dollars in lost productivity in just one year—37 billion due to premature death and 44 billion due to illness. Of these combined costs, 86 percent are attributed to drinking.
• Alcoholism is estimated to cause 500 million lost workdays annually.
• Of callers to the National Cocaine Helpline, 75 percent admit to having used drugs on the job, 64 percent report that drugs have adversely affected their job performance, 44 percent say they have sold drugs to fellow employees and 18 percent say they have stolen from coworkers to support their drug habit.

The most expensive thing that you can do is nothing.

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