Employers Struggle Finding Drug-Free Applicants

As drugs become decriminalized and abuse expands, employers struggle finding drug-free applicants.  To illustrate, a recent article from the Korn Ferry Institute told of a Texas employer.  They needed to hire a large group of employees.  So, plenty of candidates applied.  However, they were disappointed when fewer than half the applicants could pass a drug test.

Workforce Drug Abuse Soars To 10-Year High

Drug ScreenIn September, 2016, the Quest Annual Drug Testing Index shows workers testing positive to be steadily growing to a 10-year high.  The results are based on over 10 million employee drug tests across the country.  Not surprisingly, post-accident positivity rates have increased a whopping 22% in the past five years.  The same period that drugs have been decriminalized in many states.

Hair test positive results were highest at 10.3%.  Longer detection periods (90days) reveal habitual abuse.

Over the past 5 years:

  • Amphetamine positives increased 44%.
  • Marijuana increased 26%.
  • Heroin increased 146%.
  • General workplace drug abuse has increased 34%.

Surgeon General Report

The most recent Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health reports that 20.8 million Americans (8% of total) are substance abusers.  It articulates the consequences of substance abuse:Woe

  • Overdoses now kill more Americans than automobile accidents.
  • Opioids killed 30,000 in 2014.
  • Increased risky behavior, including:
    • Driving under the influence (10.6% of drivers self-report)
    • Unprotected sex
    • Needle sharing.
  • Health problems, including:
    • Psychotic reactions
    • Heart, lung, and liver disease
    • Cancer
    • Birth defects.
  • Societal problems, including:
    • Violent crime
    • Lower productivity
    • Higher health care costs.

Drugs of Choice

Drugs of Choice

Based on the most recent report on Quest positive drug test results, Marijuana remains the number one drug of choice showing up positive on 39% of all tests.  However, long-time runner-up, cocaine, has fallen off, replaced by prescription drugs.




The Outlook

Drug abusing employees cost employers billions each year.  Specifically, they create losses in terms of productivity, attendance, turnover, Worker’s Comp, theft, workplace accidents, and more.

As drugs are more decriminalized, usage increases.  So, as usage increases, employers need to be ever vigilant to weed out drug abusers.  Therefore, an effective Drug Free Workplace Policy is an indispensable part of managing a profitable enterprise.