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October is a month chock full of drug prevention holidays. It’s a great time to be in public health!

This week, we celebrate Drug-Free Work Week, which encourages healthy work environments and promotes recovery for employees with addictions.

The first Drug-Free Work Week was observed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2006 and focused on harm reduction within the construction industry. Since that time, more and more industries have gotten involved in raising awareness about this health issue.

It’s often brushed under the rug, but preventing abuse should be a high priority for every company. It affects more than just the individual. Substance abusers create hazardous work environments for fellow employees. Plus, team morale suffers when coworkers must pick up the slack for their coworker.

How can you reduce the harms of substance abuse during the work day? We recommend introducing a comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace program. These programs educate employees about substance abuse, provide strategies for prevention and share treatment resources.

You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, Heather, but I just don’t have the time to host another training. Why should I spend time on Drug-Free Workplace?”

Well, I’ll give you three reasons:

1. Substance abuse is widespread among employees.
Substance abuse is a serious health issue impacting all companies. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a whopping 75 percent of illicit drug users and 79 percent of regular heavy drinkers are employed.

2. It saves money.
According to recent research, substance abusers:

  • Incur 300 percent higher medical costs
  • File 3 to 5 times more workers’ compensation claims
  • Are 1/3 less productive
  • Are 2.5 times more likely to be absent from work than non-abusers

Because they are lower risk, certified Drug-Free Workplaces enjoy a 5% premium credit on their workers’ compensation insurance.

3. It saves lives.
In 2012, 246 Tennesseans died in alcohol-related crashes. Drug overdose fatalities are now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., ahead of motor vehicle crashes. Thousands more die each year from health problems, violent crime and suicide associated with substance abuse.

We want to help all Knoxville businesses develop a healthy work culture. MDC hosts on-site Drug-Free Workplace trainings and provides technical assistance in developing workplace policy.

We’d love to bring Drug-Free Workplace to your business. For more information about these services, shoot me an email or call (865) 588-5550.