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America’s Drug Problem

SIZING UP AMERICA’S DRUG PROBLEM:

60% of the world’s illegal drug market is in the U.S.A. (with 6% of the world’s population);
Over 20 million Americans use Marijuana;
An estimated 6 million Americans use Cocaine;
An estimated half a million Americans use Heroin;
An estimated 13 million Americans are alcoholics;
Almost 1/3 of Americans between ages 20 and 40 have used an illicit drug once in the past year
Almost 1/2 of Americans entering the work force have used an illicit drug once in the past year.

Many of these drug users are prominent citizens in our communities.
They are business owners, doctors, civic leaders, parents and neighbors.
Consider the profile of a regular cocaine user:
Well educated [average of 14 years of education]
Employed [77%] and well-paid [37% earn over 25K]
56% engage in illegal activity other than drug possession to support the habit.
[Source: National Drug Task Force Journal]
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WHO “DOES DRUGS” IN AMERICA?
2/3 of drug abusers are employed!!
Of these, 3/4 are full time.
Forget the old stereotype of the UNEMPLOYED drug abuser!!
18-25 is peak age.
In 18-25 y.o. group, 15% of males & 10% of females abuse drugs.
There are more high-income drug abusers than low income.
More drug abusers are employed full time than part time.
THE OVERALL RATE of drug abuse in America (both sexes & all ages) = FIVE PERCENT!
For more complete statistics on drug abuse, click here to see the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse http://www.health.org/pubs/nhsda/../index.htm

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AMERICA’S HIGH SCHOOLS SAMPLE DATA
from the study: “MONITORING THE FUTURE” 1996
MARIJUANA (lifetime)
8th Graders: 23.1%
Sophomores: 39.8%
Seniors: 44.9%
MARIJUANA (current)
8th Graders: 11.3%
Sophomores: 20.4%
HALLUCINOGENS:
(All… including LSD, Mushrooms, etc.)
Seniors: 3.5%
LSD:
Seniors: 2.5%
Sophomores (LSD) 2.4%

PCP:
Seniors: 1.3%
INHALANTS:
Seniors: 2.5%
TRANQUILIZERS:
Sophomores: 7.1%
COCAINE:
Seniors: 4.9%
Sophomores: 6.5%
MDMA:
Seniors: 6%
8th Graders: 3.4%

Click here to see the complete statistics for 1996http://www.nida.nih.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol12N2/DrugUse.html

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THE COST OF THE PROBLEM:
Annual cost of Federal entitlement programs alone due to alcohol & illegal drug abuse:
$31 billion!

This figure does NOT include the cost of crime, courts, or prisons, or the share paid by state and local governments!
This figure also does NOT include the cost of deterrent programs such as the DFW programs.
$21 billion of this amount is due to illegal drug use (non-alcohol.)

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DRUGS IN THE WORKPLACE:
[from “Putting Drugs out of Work” published by the Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana — and also other sources]

NATIONWIDE, ALMOST 10% OF EMPLOYEES USE DRUGS IN THE WORKPLACE!
[National Institute on Drug Addiction]
DRUGS ARE JUST AS MUCH A PROBLEM IN THE WORKPLACE AS THEY ARE ELSEWHERE. THIS IS LARGELY DUE TO THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT WHERE GROUPS OF PEOPLE ASSEMBLE, MONEY IS MADE TO PAY FOR DRUGS, AND THE THREAT OF GETTING CAUGHT IS MINIMAL. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 1 OUT OF 5 WORKERS, 18-25 YEARS OF AGE, AND 1 OUT OF 8 WORKERS, 26-34 YEARS OF AGE, ABUSE DRUGS ON THE JOB.

It is estimated that drug users cost businesses over $100 billion per year, directly and indirectly.

DIRECT COSTS TO YOUR BUSINESS:

Drug abusing employees acquire 300% higher medical costs and benefits which consequently increases health insurance rates. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce]
Illicit drug users are five times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim. [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration]
Many illegal drugs are bought by money diverted from legitimate businesses and could be as much as 100 billion a year. (2.5% of GNP and 8% of discretionary spending) [U.S. Chamber of Commerce]

INDIRECT COSTS TO YOUR BUSINESS:
Credible studies show that a substance abuser will function at about 67% of his/her capacity! Data supports the “generalization” that they are NOT productive workers! [National Institute on Drug Addiction]
Employees using drugs are three times more likely to be late for work and 2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight or more days. Collectively, substance abusers have an absentee rate of 30-35 days per year! [U.S. Chamber of Commerce]

Drug use in the workplace breeds drug dealers in the workplace. An Indiana Gallup survey revealed that 32% of workers knew of drug use by employees on the job; and 10% had been offered drugs to use on the job while at work.

Drug users have 3.6 times as many accidents. Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol abuse and alcoholism. [Employee Assistance Society of North America]

Drug users tend to have bad work habits and tend to reduce morale.

All professionals should be aware of the prevalence of drug abuse in the workplace!
Before reviewing these rates (courtesy of SmithKline Beecham labs) remember that these are the tallys of drug tests on PERSONS WHO KNEW THAT THEY WERE SUBJECT TO DRUG TESTING!

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THE IMPACT OF DRUG ABUSE ON SAFETY:

More than 1/3 of injured employees had used marijuana within a few hours prior to injury!
16.5% of the seriously injured employees had been drinking AND smoking marijuana!

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WHY HAVE A DRUG FREE WORKPLACE?
REASON NUMBER ONE IS:
THE LAW MIGHT REQUIRE IT IN YOUR BUSINESS!

If you are in the transportation industry, OR if you are billing Uncle Sam for more than $25K in any year, or if you are a government organization, then the LAW requires that you have a DRUG FREE WORKPLACE!

Even if not required by law to have a drug free workplace, consider the following.

A GOOD DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE PROGRAM CAN:

Reduce operational costs.
Preserve investor or shareholder interests.
Protect loyal employees
Improve products and services
Result in better service to customers and clients
Increase profits.
Help many people lead healthier lives

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IS LEGALIZATION THE ANSWER?

Legalization of Marijuana in Holland from 1984 to 1992 resulted in 250% increase in adolescent Marijuana use and a 30% rise in registered Cannabis addicts! During this same period, Marijuana use by American adolescents plunged 66%!

Addiction also skyrocketed in England during a similar “experiment” in England in the ’60s.

Proponents of legalization ignore:

The results of such “experiments!”
The devastating effects of drugs on quality of life and longevity.
The horrific expense of drug-induced disability, crime, lost wages, and morbidity!
Newly emerging studies showing the effectiveness of drug abuse prevention programs.
To learn more about the issue of legalizing or de-criminalizing drugs:
http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/druginfo/home.html
Here are some internet newsgroup sites you can visit where drug and alcohol abuse issues are discussed:

news.alt.drugs
news.alt.drugs.chemistry
news.alt.drug
news.alt.drugs.culture
news.alt.drugs.hard
news.alt.drugs.pot
news.alt.drugs.cultivation
news.alt.drugs.psychedelics

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ARE WE TESTING FOR ALL THE DRUGS OF ABUSE? … NO!
Currently, federal programs mandate testing for only 5 drugs of abuse: Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates, and PCP.
Many employers add the following five drugs to make a “ten panel” testing program:
Barbiturates
Benzodiazepines
Methadone
Methaqualone
Propoxyphene
FREQUENTLY ABUSED DRUGS WE ARE NOT TESTING FOR:
Certain Benzodiazepines:
(Most notorious is the import called “Rohypnol”the “date rape” drug.)
Amphetamine derivatives:
(These are the so-called “designer drugs” …. Ecstacy, Eve, etc.)

Opiate Analogs:
(such as Hydrocodone, Percodan, etc.)
Mushrooms
(Psilocybin) (Very commonly abused, and grown, by young abusers)
L.S.D.:
(Very commonly sold & abused. Testing rare because of expense]
Betel Quid:
(The chewing of “betel nuts” is quite common in some areas)
Metcathionine:
(Amphetamine-like derivative of African Khat plant. Popular in Russia since 1980’s)
Gamma hydroxybutyrate or “GHB”
(formerly sold as a “muscle builder” in health food stores.)
Inhalants:
(Sniffing “of glue” & aerosols, and other volotile substances … especially by young teens) [Most common solvents & aerosols are Toluene, Zylene, & Benzene…… but there are others]
For detailed information on all the drugs of abuse, navigate to “Drugs of Abuse” on this website!

[Excellent reference for Review of Drug Abuse: EMERGENCY MEDICINE, JULY 1995]

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DOES DRUG TESTING WORK?

1994 Zwerling/Ryan Research…..says YES!
“Under the Influence” by Lempert & O’Brien [These are from the ACOEM Course] ….also says YES!
Review of Accident & Injury rates in trucking industry…… says YES!
Review of Accident, Injury & absentee rates in other industries …… says YES!

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LEGAL CONCERNS:
THE NUMBER ONE CONSIDERATION from the beginning has been the issue of “ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE” (of body fluids.) There are many opponents of the whole concept of drug testing and their two favorite watch-words are that the testing is “INVASIVE” and represents “ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE.” In more pleasant language, there are two questions:

Are drug and alcohol testing fair and non-discriminatory?
Do drug and alcohol testing compromise the right to privacy?
TO DATE, COURT DECISIONS PROVIDE TWO INCENTIVES FOR DRUG TESTING:
HERE’S THE CARROT: To date, courts have upheld drug testing as a legitimate means of determining employees’ ability to work
HERE’S THE STICK!: The majority of courts have held businesses liable for accidents caused by drug-using employees; particularly when the company has no formal Drug-Free-Workplace policy.

 

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THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF ADMINISTERING A DRUG TESTING PROGRAM
Require no test unless specifically required by regulation or written Company Policy!

The decision to test an employee is relatively easy in the case of Pre-employment, Post-accident, and Return to work testing.
The decision is most tricky when it comes to “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause.”
[Be sure you have the “questionable behavior” well documented and witnessed and be sure the employee and the supervisor involved have had the required training!]

Random testing is tricky and must be managed properly!
Random testing seems to be the most difficult for administrators to understand even though the rule is simple: On each occasion that a random selection is made, EVERY EMPLOYEE in the pool must have an equal chance of being selected!
RANDOM DOES NOT MEAN “DISCRETIONARY!”
INCLUDE EMPLOYEES (LABOR) IN DEVELOPING A DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE
A joint management-labor Drug-Free-Workplace boosts morale and results in better acceptance of the plan by a company’s work force. Management-driven programs have a much higher probability of being challenged through litigation than those programs that have the full confidence of both management and company employees.

[Most recent revision © Sept. 25, 1996]


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