Drugs and Their Effects On Business
Drugs are used heavily for recreational purposes. It is
becoming more common for addicts to get high at work.
Stoned workers are inefficient and are costing companies
millions in accidents and lost productivity. Searches to
catch users have raised questions of the right to privacy.
The problem has become so big that companies have banded
together to form rehabilitation programs to help the
Drug use affects employees for one reason or another in
every position within a company, and this greatly reduces
the efficiency of those employees. This has prompted
companies to initiate illegal searches, which question the
rights of employees, and rehabilitation programs.
Drug abuse causes many serious problems that could have
been avoided if the user wasn't on drugs. The problem of
drug abuse has its worse effects when the persons using
drugs are responsible for millions of dollars in equipment,
money, or lives. The armed forces which are responsible for
the defense of the nation and its interests should be ready
at all times. But due to drug abuse the performance of
military personal can be seriously reduced. An air crash in
1985 on the aircraft carrier Nimitz killed 14 crewmen and
autopsies revealed that 11 of them were on drugs. "(The US)
spends billions of dollars on military defense, and our
military may be crippled by this drug problem."
Drugs cost a lot and the need for them is ever increasing.
A drug habit can quickly drain a worker's pay check while
he still needs more drugs. An employee will embezzle to
raise the funds necessary to buy more drugs. An employee in
a high place has the opportunity to embezzle large amounts
of cash or sell company secrets to rival companies or
foreign powers. Drugs reduce the ability to make decisions,
and if the addict is responsible for large amounts of cash
the effects can be disastrous.
The sales end of companies have been renowned for indulging
in wine, women, and song before or during the actual
transaction, but the adverse effects on the decision making
process by drugs and alcohol can induce the parties to buy
at high prices or not buy needed supplies, which can cost
large sums of money. Rival companies can even "pressure a
drug-impaired executive into taking actions that hurt his
company. The abuse of drugs by executives causes extensive
problem nationwide. Drug abuse also causes a leech effect
on productivity due to workers not being at their best
state of condition. Working while intoxicated, whatever the
drugs, both the individual, the industry, and society can
Workers on drugs are uncoordinated and not alert.
Uncoordinated workers on an assembly line have a higher
percentage of error than their sober counterparts making
for defective parts and merchandise which will be returned
by irate customers. This will cost a company in worthless
merchandise and unhappy customers who most likely will not
use their products again. A worker with drug problems also
misses more days on sick leave than a worker without a drug
problem. "We are just beginning to recognize the problem."
The addicted drug users all have some type of reason for
using drugs, or getting addicted.
The reasons for people using drugs on the job are as varied
as the drugs themselves. There are both stereotypical and
practicality reasons for using drugs on the job. A
chronological reason for drugs filtering up into business
is that the drug oriented students of the sixties grew up
and went into careers bringing their drugs with them.
Blue-collar workers use drugs to relieve the boredom of
menial work. Years of working on an assembly line may
create a high amount of tedium that only drugs can relieve.
People in the high pressure of white-collar jobs that
create tension are prone to drug abuse. Manager types get
paid well and "They are used to feeling masterful and are
not likely to view drugs as threatening" so the odds are
high of them getting addicted even though they are used to
clean living. Jobs that require creativity such as artists
use drugs to stimulate their creativity. The most logical
reason for drug abuse is the accessibility of drugs at work
and in society. If drugs are so accessible, then of course
there are going to be abusers.
The government has tried to stop the flow of drugs inside
the United States, but they haven't had any overwhelming
success. Cocaine is becoming more popular because it
provides an intense high that gives the user the feeling
that he/she can do anything, and cocaine is easy to hide
and use. Workers have devised many ways to use and move
drugs through a company, such as sending drugs through
normal interoffice messenger services, or switching drugs
with medicine bottles and using them in front of everyone.
Executives with their own offices have an even easier time
taking drugs because of the privacy of their offices. In
some cases drugs have become a part of company procedures.
Sales have a reputation of warm up meetings with alcohol
and now drugs are added to these parties in order to
persuade customers to buy the product or service. In fields
where the workers are addicted like modeling, cocaine is
buried in the budgets. This wide and open use of drugs has
encouraged companies to do their best to crack down on drug
users in the company.
Companies are attempting to stop their employees from being
on drugs. Workers are even turning in their fellow workers,
mainly because they are tired of working around stoned
people who may be a danger to themselves and the people
around them. In attempts to do something effective,
companies have initiated illegal searches of the private
property of employees. Illegal searches are being done
under the assumption that an employee is the property of
the company and that the company can threaten the
employee's job. A reason for doing more detailed searches
of an employee is because "the only time (anyone) sees the
workers with problems is when they reach the surface and by
then (the employees) are pretty well gone." Material
searches involve searching an employee's belongings and are
designed to find the drugs themselves. The most common
procedure is when company officials cut the locks of
employees lockers and then search for contraband, with or
without the help of drug sniffing dogs. A more discrete way
the companies search down drug users is by hiring
undercover agents that entrap employees into using drugs.
Catching more secretive drug users with drugs on them,
because they are clever or are just weekend users of drugs,
is more difficult. Companies have to physically search the
employee's body which raises a lot of controversy. Urine
testing gives rise to most discontent because of its
humiliating way of getting a sample. Blood testing has its
own inherent problems because of the discomfort of a needle
The problems that have resulted because of conventional
testing for controlled substances in the body's chemical
tract, have resulted in new testing methods. One of the
most feasible new types of test is the testing of hair.
Hair keeps a permanent record of the body's chemicals
including the drugs it has used. The best side of testing
hair is that it requires less cooperation from the person
being tested so it can be done without a lot of complaints.
Employers are just beginning to start wide scale testing.
It is becoming more common for job applicants to take drug
tests. Volunteer testing for drugs is just beginning.
Mandatory testing of all employees still has a few hurdles
to overcome. Managers and executives wield so much power in
a company that it is hard to get them to do something that
they don't want to do. This has led to the rumor that
"heroin use among establishment types is the most
underreported social phenomenon in America today." Even
with all of the testing procedures available they all have
one common drawback, they are not 100% accurate. Drug
testing has outraged employees' rights groups and has
triggered even more counter arguments from the employers.
Drug testing has brought up several controversial issues
over the right to privacy and an employer's right to test
workers who aren't on drugs. The real reason why " labor is
not supporting testing in the work place" is because
something personal might be found in a search and the
violation of privacy is one step to the elimination of
their guaranteed rights. Most labor unions point out "you
need a search warrant to search (an employee's) home, but
(an employee's) body is a lot more sacred than (employee's)
home." On the company side of the dispute they feel that
they "have a right and responsibility to establish sound
working conditions." Employees feel that their off time is
their own time and that they can do anything they want to
While on company time "(employers) have the right to say
how (employees) behave in the work place." But drugs have
lingering affects so even if employees use them of their
off time they are still impaired when they go to work, so
there is no simple answer. " (An employers) No. 1 concern
is safety" and drug impaired workers create a huge safety
problem because of their affected mental condition, and
this gives the employers a very good cause to hunt down
drug users. Still employees are afraid of drug testing
because of myths of harsh and cruel treatment for being
Companies are trying to help those employees who are
affected by drugs. Earlier, companies would terminate
employees with a drug problem. But the reality of
"termination for using marijuana in a company, would only
merit a $100 fine in California" was unrealistic and
unfair, so now a company will put the affected employee in
a drug-treatment program. Another logical reason for
companies to keep drug impaired employees is because "it is
easier to help a person who has been on the job than it is
to hire and train someone to replace him." And on top of
that a company's health-insurance benefits pay all the
treatment costs. These treatment programs have a 73%
It is in the company's favor to send an affected employee
to a treatment program, which is totally feasible for the
company. To help their employees to rehabilitate, several
of the 500 largest companies have banded together to
organize an effective program. Many of the Fortune 500
companies have set up in-house employee-assistance
programs, and they have even set up toll-free 800 numbers
for workers and their families to call for advice and
information. The treatment of drug impaired workers is
relativity new and therefore the long term effects of the
programs are not known and can only be speculated..
Companies have noticed the problems that drugs produce and
they are trying to stop the use of them by their employees.
It is now becoming harder to use drugs and make a living.
Since companies are controlling people who use drugs, the
flow of drugs into this country might be reduced. The way
drugs are being treated by companies "may be very effective
in changing the way people view drug taking in this
country." Drug use affects companies with inefficiency and
now companies are trying to stem the problem.
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DeVries, Hilary. "Business and the Military Face Up to Drug
Christian Science Monitor, (May 5, 1982), 13.
Flaz, Steven. "The Executive Addict." Fortune, (June 24,
Roan, Shair. "Substance Abuse: Can Employers Help?"
Ft. Lauderdale News. Sun-Sentinel, (December 3, 1984), D1
Wakefield, Dan. The Addict. Greenwich. Fawcett
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THilary DeVries, "Business and the Military Face up to Drug
Challenge," Christain Science Monitor, (May 5,1982), 13.
Steven Flaz, "The Executive Addict," Fortune, (June 24,
Janice Castro, "Battling the Enemy Within," Time, 127 11
(March 17, 1986), p.61.
Drug use affects employees in every position within a
company, and greatly reduces the efficicncy of those
employees. This has prompted companies to screen employee
and establish rehabilition programs.