The Dangers of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Effects of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The Dangers of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

As new employees quickly learn, there are many things one shouldn’t do or say in the workplace. Wearing your favorite sweatpants and flip-flops? Rarely advisable. Gossiping about your fellow employees? Probably not a good idea. Dining on pungent tuna in the staff room? Be prepared for glares and grimaces.

However, some habits aren’t just inappropriate or best avoided. Substance abuse, for example, can have a profound impact on both the productivity and safety of a workplace.

If your company doesn’t already have an alcohol and drug abuse policy and testing program in place, take a moment to consider the effects of substance abuse in the workplace.


Every business owner focuses on the bottom line, so let’s start with the costs of substance abuse. Substance abusers cost employers an average of $13,000 a year (source). In total, this costs the American economy $81 billion annually, as approximately 70% of the 14.8 million Americans who abuse illegal drugs are employed (source).

This loss of revenue results from decreased productivity (which we will discuss in more detail below) as well as workers’ compensation claims, health care costs, legal liabilities, and theft. Employees who abuse drugs or alcohol are three to five times more ly to file workers’ compensation claims.

Plus, employee substance abuse can increase your healthcare costs by 300%!


It should come as no surprise that substance abuse reduces productivity in the workplace. After all, drug and alcohol use often cause poor concentration, a lack of focus, carelessness, and errors in judgment.

Substance abuse can lower your business’s productivity by one-third and cause 2.5 times more absenteeism. Plus, workers who abuse alcohol are 2.

7 times more ly than other workers to have injury-related absences (source).

Employees who abuse alcohol or drugs during or before work are more ly to sleep on the job, lack attention, and struggle to concentrate. They may be preoccupied with obtaining and using substances while at work, and they are also more ly to suffer lost-time injuries (i.e., an injury or accident that leads to the loss of productive work time).

Additionally, employees who abuse drugs or alcohol tend to hop between jobs. This high turnover rate is bad news for employers, who will waste time interviewing, hiring, and training new employees.


Drugs and alcohol can dramatically change a person’s behavior, and these negative changes in personality may lower your workplace morale. For example, the abuser may be tardy, lethargic, defensive, or quick-tempered.

They may suffer from stress due to financial problems, complain about issues at home, or blame their coworkers for their own mistakes and shortcomings.

Sometimes abusers will neglect their personal hygiene and appearance, and they may exhibit symptoms of a hangover or withdrawal.

Just as one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, one employee can alter the morale of the entire workplace. Coworkers may resent the substance abuser’s lack of productivity, especially if this person is often late or absent, resulting in the coworkers suffering stress and frustration as they try to cover the neglected duties.


Due to impaired judgment, a lack of concentration, and a variety of other side effects, substance abusers are more ly to cause injuries, accidents, and even fatalities in the workplace.

In fact, one-fifth of workers and managers have reported that a coworker’s on-the-job or off-the-job drinking hurt their productivity and/or jeopardized their safety (source). Substance abuse is the third leading cause of workplace violence, and drug-using employees are 3.

6 times more ly to be involved in workplace accidents (source). Especially in industries that involve dangerous equipment, locations, or duties, substance abuse can be deadly.

Drug Testing Offers a Solution

The effects of substance abuse in the workplace can be frustrating, upsetting, and devastating.

Luckily, you can greatly reduce the prevalence of substance abuse in your workplace by creating a firm drug-free (and alcohol free) policy, educating your employees, and implementing a testing program.

Not only would this benefit your company’s bottom line, but it would also improve the lives of your employees.

If you’re looking to implement a drug-free workplace through drug and alcohol testing, contact Tomo Drug Testing. Based in Springfield, St.

Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere.

For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!

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