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Facts and Figures

Sometimes you just want the cold hard facts.  Below are statistics and data demonstrating the prevalence and impact of substance use on employers as well as the value behind doing something about this situation.

Prevalence of substance use

  • In an average U.S. company, 15% – 17% of employees misuse substances. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • 75.4% of binge drinkers, 74.7% of heavy drinkers and 67.9% of illicit drug users are employed. (National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 2012)
  • Drug and alcohol use is involved in 47% of industrial injuries and in 40% of industrial deaths. (Bernstein, M., and J.J. Mahoney. (1989) “Management Perspectives on Alcoholism.” Occupational Medicine)

Impact of substance use on employers

  • On average, each substance using employee costs his or her employer $7,000 per year. (Small Business Administration)
  • Employees who abuse substances work at only two-thirds of their productivity. (American Council for Drug Education as cited by SummitHoldings.com)
  • Substance abusers are absent 16 times more often than other workers – causing lost productivity and overwork of non-abusing employees and higher replacement costs. (SAMHSA (June 2007) Worker Substance Use and Workplace Policies and Programs)
  • Substance abusers use three times the normal level of employee health benefits and incur 300% higher medical costs. (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Substance abusers are 10 times more likely to steal from the company or from other employees. (Research Triangle Institute, National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Health and Safety News, 1986)
  • Drug and alcohol abusers are 3.6 times more likely to have an accident on the job and 5 times more likely to have an accident off the job. (Backer, T.E. (1987) Strategic Planning for Workplace Drug Abuse Programs, p. 4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Rockville, MD.)
  • Drug-using employees are 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • 38% to 50% of all workers’ compensation claims are related to the abuse of alcohol or other drugs in the workplace. (National Council on Compensation Insurance)

How a drug-free workplace program helps

  • Following Southern Pacific Railroad’s implementation of drug testing, incidents resulting in injuries dropped from 2,234 incidents in the year before drug testing was introduced to just 322 after drug-testing. (Taggart R, (1989) Results of the Drug Testing Program at Southern Pacific Railroad. In S. W. Gust and J. M. Walsh (Ed.) Drugs in the Workplace: Research and Evaluation Data. NIDA Research Monograph, Number 91 pp. 97-108)
  • Within two years of implementing drug-testing programs, construction companies experienced a 51% reduction in injury rates compared with only a 14% decline in injury rates in the average construction company. (Gerber, J. (2000) An evaluation of drug testing in the workplace: A study of the construction industry. Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations)
  • The injury rate at construction companies that tested for drug use dipped from 8.92 incidents per 200,000 work-hours before the drug-testing program was put in place to 4.36 incidents afterward. (Gerber, J. (2000) An evaluation of drug testing in the workplace: A study of the construction industry. Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations)
  • Companies with testing programs saw an 11.41% reduction in its workers’ compensation experience-rating modification factor. At the same time, companies in the study sample that did not employ drug testing saw no such decline.(Gerber, J. (2000) An evaluation of drug testing in the workplace: A study of the construction industry. Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations)
  • Employees with supervisors trained to notice signs of alcohol/drug abuse and willing to act on those symptoms were less likely to drink or use illicit drugs on the job. (Frone, M. and Trinidad, J. (2012) Relation of supervisor social control to employee substance use: Considering the dimensionality of social control, temporal context of substance use, and substance legality. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Volume 76. Number 2 pp. 95-203)

Benefits of having an Employee Assistance Program and offering a second chance

  • As tempting as it might be to get rid of a substance using employee, doing so costs roughly 25 – 200% of annual compensation to replace that employee – not including the loss of institutional knowledge, service continuity, and co-worker productivity and morale that can accompany employee turnover. (F. Leigh Branham. (2000) Six Truths about Employee Turnover, American Management Association)
  • An employee in recovery from a substance use disorder misses less work than the general workforce – a cost saving of over $3,200 a year. (A Substance Use Cost Calculator for US Employers With an Emphasis on Prescription Pain Medication Misuse)
  • Studies found that for every dollar spent on employee support programs, $5 – $7 in losses are avoided and a savings of $3 – $5 in long-term healthcare costs are realized. (Employee Assistance Professional Association (American Business Publishing, 2002)
  • A typical return on investment in an Employee Assistance Program is $8.70 for ever dollar invested. (BJCEAP (December 2014) Study Proves High Return on EAP Investment)
  • Behavioral healthcare programs, such as Employee Assistance Programs can reduce sick-leave by 37%. (Employee Assistance Professional Association (American Business Publishing, 2002)
  • Absenteeism declines 66% among those offered company supported programs. (Employee Assistance Professional Association (American Business Publishing, 2002)