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How to Create an Effective Drug-Use Policy

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Drugs in the workplace are a real problem for many employers. While employees may not be using illicit drugs in the facilities themselves, 90% of drug users have jobs, and 20% of employees between the ages of 20 and 30 used at least one illicit drug in the past month. So how does that affect you as an employer? Drug users on the job utilize almost twice the benefits of non drug users, are absent almost twice as much, and file twice as many workers' compensation claims. As you can see, those who use drugs can quickly drain a company of its resources and reputation.

There are a number of ways you can help to create a drug and alcohol-free work zone. One way to significantly reduce the number of drug-related incidents in the workplace is to create an effective drug-use policy. Your drug-use policy should include:

  • A written document that states your company's goal of a drug-free work zone

  • A clear statement that says no drug or alcohol use of any kind will be tolerated in the workplace. Be sure to also outline your company's policy on prescription medication. Many companies require that employees who take certain prescription drugs, particularly painkillers or other prescription drugs that are commonly sold on the street, inform HR of their prescription.
  • Specific, well-defined consequences for violating the policy. Determine beforehand what the consequences are and make them known. Also, decide whether or not the company will be adopting a zero-tolerance policy on drug use.
  • Details on drug screening. If you decide to hold random or planned drug screenings, make sure you know the laws associated with this. In addition, let employees know how and under what circumstances they will be tested for drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Resources. In addition to the above, you drug policy should list resources for those who may be struggling with any sort of substance abuse addiction.


Making It Work
Once you have your drug policy in place, hold a meeting or seminar and go over it in detail with all of your employees, then have them sign a contract stating they understand the policy and will uphold it.

Once your policy is in place, you can also help to combat drug use in the following ways:

  • Know the symptoms of drug use. Be able to identify potential drug users based on such symptoms as enlarged or dilated pupils, incoherence, slurred speech, or other common symptoms.
  • Implement a confidential reporting system. Enact a system that allows employees to anonymously and confidentially report an employee who they have witnessed or suspected using drugs or alcohol in the workplace or working under the influence.
  • Keep track of your employees' performance. If you are familiar with the quality of their work, you will be better able to identify potential drug use. Be sure to hold evaluations and document job performance on a regular basis.
  • Know how to approach an employee. If you suspect an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work, never confront them alone. Take a witness and document the confrontation.


Having a drug and alcohol-free workplace is essential for a productive, healthy office. By following the steps above, you can create an effective drug-use policy that will help eliminate the added costs and loss in productivity that come with employing someone who abuses drugs or alcohol.

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