The COVID-19 pandemic brought many unexpected challenges. Some were completely out of left field while others were more predictable. One result from the pandemic’s uncertainty has been the increase in drug testing positivity rates. Historically, national crises have a direct correlation to increased drug usage, and since the start of the pandemic, drug testing positivity rates have continued to skyrocket.
Drug use has continued to rise with the legalization of marijuana and the continued challenges resulting from the opioid epidemic. Now, add a worldwide crisis into the mix and you have the perfect storm.
Navigating uncharted territory, people felt heightened worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%), and loneliness (42%). Stressors like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, domestic violence, child abuse, shutdowns, loss of income, work-related ergonomics, and divorce increased during this time as well — all increasing the risk for unhealthy coping mechanisms.
These factors not only foster an environment for relapse but also for increased or first-time drug use. In fact, according to the CDC, 13% of Americans started or increased substance use to manage emotions connected to COVID-19.
Increased drug use has the potential to create a substance use disorder, extending far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Something to watch out for in the workplace.
Pandemic aside, positive workplace drug tests have risen to a 16-year high, according to SHRM. In fact, 2019 had the highest amount of workers test positive for drug use since 2003. While we begin to see the reality of drug use during COVID-19 come to fruition, we can see positive drug tests continue to rise.
SHRM reported that:
Looking back at 2020, SHRM reported:
With drug use on the rise, it is worth considering your work’s drug-free workplace policies and employee assistance programs.
Ignoring drug use and abuse can cost a company hefty amounts of money — to the tune of $82 billion in productivity each year.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, employees who use substances are more likely to:
On the other hand, employers who have implemented drug-free workplace programs or drug testing solutions report:
Implementing drug screening programs into the workplace has many benefits, but it’s important to consider what would work best for your organization.
Having solid drug screening policies better ensures the safety of your team members, clients, and property. They work as a method to prevent and deter workers from using drugs while also mitigating other risks, like negligent-hiring lawsuits.
As we start to see employees return to the office, now is the time to assess drug screening policies and/or implement drug screening programs. Consider implementing:
Need help revamping your drug screening program? Verified First offers three different drug screening solutions to meet your needs, including a random drug screening program option.
NOTE: Ultimately, drug screening needs differ from organization to organization, so it’s important to determine what needs your organization has.