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Employee use of illegal or controlled substances is an increasing problem. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 75 percent of illegal drug users are employed, and 3.1 percent say they have used illegal drugs before or during work hours. The American Insurance Association reports that prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. In addition, 79 percent of the nation’s heavy alcohol users are employed, and 13 percent say they have consumed alcohol during the workday. Fourteen percent of heavy drinkers (those who consume 5 or more drinks each day) are employed full or part-time. Between 10 and 20 percent of workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse on the job costs employers approximately $74 billion each year in lost productivity.

To help combat substance abuse both on and off the job, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, maintains a opens in a new windowresource center to help employers address these issues and to assist in creating substance abuse employment policies. Additional information can be found on the opens in a new windowNational Safety Council’s website.

Ninety percent of large corporations have drug-free workplace programs but less than 10 percent of small and medium sized businesses have one, making them prime targets for addicted employees. opens in a new windowDrugFree Idaho helps Idaho businesses establish a drug-free workplace program. Having a program may reduce workers comp insurance premiums. Today, with the legalization of medical marijuana use in some states and recreational use in others, it is important to involve your attorney when drafting a drug-free workplace policy.

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