Why Drug Test

One smart question…Many correct answers

Q. Why should a company conduct drug testing?

There are millions of drug abusers in the United States.

According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), approximately:

  • 15.9 million Americans age 12 or older admit to current (in the last 30 days) illicit drug use.
  • 36 million Americans age 12 and older admit to having abused prescription drugs.
  • 12.9 million Americans age 12 and older and 12.4 million adults admit to "heavy" drinking (5 or more drinks on at least 5 or more occasions in the past month).
  • 2.1 million Americans 12 to 20 years of age admit to being heavy drinkers.1

The majority of adult drug users are employed.

According to the government's annual Household Survey on Drug Abuse in America, more than three-quarters (76.4%) of all illicit drug users age 18 and older are employed full- or part-time. That's approximately 16% of the working population (full- and part-time workers combined).

Drug users are not the best employees.

The federal government reported that drug-abusing employees, when compared to non-using workers, are:

  • More likely to change jobs frequently (turnover).
  • More likely to be late or absent from work.
  • More likely to be less productive employees.
  • More likely to be involved in a workplace accident.
  • More likely to file a workers' compensation claim.

Drug users are unsafe workers.

A study by the US Postal Service found that substance abusers, when compared to their non-substance abusing co-workers, are:

  • Involved in 55% more accidents.
  • Sustain 85% more on-the-job injuries2

Further, the National Safety Council reported that 80% of those injured in "serious" drug-related accidents at work are not the drug abusing employees but non-using co-workers and others.2

Drug users are very costly to employers.

How much does drug abuse cost employers? The US Navy estimates each drug user costs his or her employer an average of $6,600 more than non-substance abusing co-workers each year.2

Employees favor drug testing.

According to a Gallup survey, employees typically favor drug testing of:

  • Workers in safety-sensitive jobs (95%)
  • Office workers (69%)
  • Health care workers (92%)
  • Factory workers (81%)

They even favor drug testing of employees in their own occupations (78%).2

Employers favor drug testing.

A survey of business executives underscored the benefits of drug testing from a company's perspective. For example, 77% of the respondents said that, since implementing drug testing they were seeing a better caliber of job applicants. A "better public image" was cited by 58%, while 56% said they were experiencing fewer workplace drug problems. Also noteworthy was that 54% had noticed an improvement in employee morale.2

Drug testing works, according to drug users.

According to a federal government study of full-time employees who admitted that they used illicit drugs, 40% said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted random drug testing, and 30% said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment drug testing.2

Drug testing saves money.

The US Navy claims that its drug-free workplace program, which includes random drug testing and costs approximately $20 million a year, has reduced the number of sailors who use drugs and abuse alcohol by more than 57%. That equates to a savings of more than $210 million every year. In other words, the Navy claims it realizes a savings of approximately $10 for every dollar it spends on drug testing.

Try this two-step formula to calculate your return on investment (ROI) in drug testing and see how much you can save.

Step 1

Multiply the number of employees at your company by the percentage you think have a substance abuse problem, then multiply that number by the average cost per year for each drug abuser on your payroll to determine the cost of substance abuse at your company.

___ the total number of employees at your company multiplied by (x) ___% of your workforce that uses drugs (national average is 17%), then multiply (x) that number by the average cost per year for each drug abuser on your payroll (national average is $6,600) = $___ cost of substance abuse at your company

Step 2

Subtract the total amount that you pay for drug testing each year from the answer you just got calculating the cost of substance abuse at your company.

___ Cost of substance abuse at your company - ___ Cost of drug testing at your company = $ ___

This figure represents your return on investment in drug testing. Regardless of what numbers you use to complete the formula, your ROI for drug testing will be dramatic in comparison to the relatively small amount you spend on drug testing.