Establishing a Workplace Substance Abuse Program

Almost three-quarters of drug users in the United States are employed. When illegal drugs are used on the job, billions of dollars are lost in reduced productivity and increased health care costs. In response to this problem, many employers have established workplace substance abuse programs. Because no two businesses are alike, no one substance abuse program is right for all businesses. Your circumstances, needs, location, culture, resources and so forth will determine the program that will work best for you.

If you’re interested in establishing a substance abuse program, contact OccNet. We can give you advice on setting up a program for your company. OccNet is the occupational health service of the Health Alliance.

Although individual programs vary, there are five standard components of any effective workplace substance abuse program:

  • Written policy statement
  • Supervisor training
  • Employee education and awareness
  • Assistance for employees with substance abuse problems
  • Drug and alcohol testing.

“Your written policy should include an assessment of your company’s needs, an understanding of your current situation, and an idea as to what you want to accomplish with a substance abuse program,” explains Dr. M. W., medical director of OccNet. “It should clearly describe the behaviors that are prohibited and thoroughly explain the consequences of violating the policy.”

All supervisors should be trained to understand your company’s substance abuse policy and procedures, to identify and help resolve employee performance problems, and to know how to refer employees to available assistance.

Employees should receive information about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, how it can affect them and their families and how it can influence product quality, safety, absenteeism and health care costs. Employees need to understand the details of your substance abuse program, including how they will receive help if they have a problem.

Drug and alcohol testing by itself does not constitute a substance abuse program. However, combined with other components of a program, it can help prevent substance abuse and serve as an important tool in identifying workers who need support.

Source: Department of Labor