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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 affected workers. 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 suffer." 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 extracting blood. 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 do. 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 caught. 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% success rate. 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. Bibliography Castro, Janice. "Battling the Enemy Within.". Time 127 11 (March 17, 1986), 52-61. Chidsey, Donald Barr. On and Off the Wagon. New York: Cowles Book Company, Inc., 1969. DeVries, Hilary. "Business and the Military Face Up to Drug Challenge." Christian Science Monitor, (May 5, 1982), 13. Flaz, Steven. "The Executive Addict." Fortune, (June 24, 1985), 24-31. Roan, Shair. "Substance Abuse: Can Employers Help?" Ft. Lauderdale News. Sun-Sentinel, (December 3, 1984), D1 & D4. Wakefield, Dan. The Addict. Greenwich. Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1963. Footnotes 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, 1985), 26. Flaz, p.24. DeVries, p.13. Flaz, p.27. Flaz, p.29. Janice Castro, "Battling the Enemy Within," Time, 127 11 (March 17, 1986), p.61. Flaz, p.59. Castro, p.57. Castro, p.61. THESIS 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.

 



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