Our Blog

What is the Impact of Drugs and Alcohol at Work?

By: Celeste Ricco Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Employers who implement and enforce a Drug-Free Workplace Policy will statistically see increased productivity, improved punctuality and reduced sick days, turnover and workplace injury.

Here’s some startling statistics and facts about the impact of drugs and alcohol at work:


The Office of National Drug Control Policy – How Illicit Drug Use Affects Businesses and the Economy

  • $120 billion in lost productivity, mainly due to labor participation costs, participation in drug abuse treatment, incarceration and premature death (estimated in 2007).
  • 67% of current drug users aged 18 or older were employed, either full-time (48%) or part-time (19%) in 2009. The remaining were unemployed (13%) or not in the labor force (21%).
  • During a 2-year study, researchers found full-time workers who were current drug users were 5.4% more likely to miss two or more workdays in the past month due to illness or injury as opposed to non-current drug users.
  • Current drug users are twice as likely to skip one or more days of work in the past month.


The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. – Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace

  • Alcohol and drug dependence impact some unlikely areas of job performance: poor decision making, loss of morale, high turnover, increased likelihood of having trouble with co-workers, supervisors or tasks. However, individuals experiencing these are not necessarily on drugs or alcohol, making identification all the more difficult.
  • Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of ER patients treated for work injuries.
  • 24% of workers report drinking during the workday at least once in the past year.


Modernmedicine.com – Drug addiction among nurses: Confronting a quite epidemic

  • The American Nurses Association states approximately 10% of nurses are dependent on drugs.
  • Certain specialties are believed to have higher levels of substance abuse due to intense emotional and physical demands and availability of controlled substances.
  • Although the above mentioned ANA statistic is identical to the prevalence of drug abuse in mainstream America (approximately 10% of the US struggles with dependence), the type of drug is reversed. Prescription-type dependence is significantly higher for nurses as opposed to street drugs.
  • It’s not just nurses. According to com, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicated in 2007 that an average of 103,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides were abusing or dependent on illicit drugs.


Every industry, every company can be impacted by drugs and alcohol at work. Especially where drug laws are changing, employers should talk to their legal counsel to update and enforce a drug and alcohol policy.

A common assumption is that this mostly impacts low-skill, high turnover professions. However, certain industries can arguably have greater impact on society as a whole, which is why healthcare statistics were highlighted. Healthcare facilities, in particular, has specific requirements to report and address instances of intoxication and diversion. It’s very important to note that the statistics presented were specifically taken from the noted article, which focused on only nurses, while information is widely available throughout the healthcare industry. Nurses play a vital and respected role in healthcare, often recognized as the backbone that keeps operations moving forward. Whether it be healthcare or high turnover, drugs and alcohol adversely impact the workplace.


Do you feel your drug and alcohol policy can help identify risk in the workplace? Choice Screening offers a variety of Drug Testing, Alcohol Testing, urine tests, hair sample tests, and saliva testing both at the lab or on site. We can also help support DOT testing requirements, reasonable suspicion, post accident and regular/random testing.


Want to learn more about employment drug and alcohol testing?

Contact Us

Topics: Recruiting, Pre-employment Screening, Industry Resources, Drug & Alcohol Testing

Celeste Ricco

Background screening enthusiast. Blogger. FCRA Advanced Certified by NAPBS. Dedicated to all things background screening!