Substance use disorders represent a pressing issue for American employers and workers. According to data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 70% of all adults with an alcohol or illicit drug use disorder are employed. Nearly 9% of all employed adults (approximately 13.6 million workers) have current alcohol or illicit drug use disorders, while a relatively equal number (approximately 13.4 million workers) report that they are in recovery or have recovered from a substance use problem.
Workplaces are a critical point of contact for Americans struggling with or recovering from a substance use disorder. Ideally, workplaces will provide individual, family, and community support and improve the well-being of workers. Workplaces should create work environments that proactively prevent substance misuse, reduce stigma, and encourage treatment and sustained recovery.
Problems Caused and Impact on Workplace Safety
Alcohol and drug abuse by employees cause many expensive problems for business and industry ranging from lost productivity, injuries, and an increase in health insurance claims. The loss to companies in the United States due to alcohol and drug-related abuse by employees totals $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).
These can include costly medical, social, and other problems that affect both employees and employers. Substance abuse among employees can threaten public safety, impair job performance, and threaten the individuals own safety.
Calculating the Impact on the Bottom Line
Addiction is our country's biggest public health crisis. Untreated substance use costs businesses over $700 billion in lost productivity. Costs to businesses can be measured at the expense of absenteeism, injuries, health insurance claims, loss of productivity, employee morale, theft, and fatalities. According to NCADI statistics, alcohol and drug users are far less productive because they use three times as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are five times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim.