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The Hidden Cost of Substance Abuse in Workplaces


Alcohol and Drug abuse has led to loss of productivity in businesses. Statistics show that alcohol and drug abuse costs the USA $249 billion and $271.5 billion respectively, every year. This also includes a loss of 56 million working days. Businesses lose $81 billion annually to drug abuse which makes up nearly 10% of annual payroll.

According to studies done by  and represented by this infographic:  

  • 70% of substance abusers are in full-time employment, 15% of workers are drunk at work at least occasionally, and 9 out of 10 drug abusers work at small or medium scale companies.
  • 75% of illicit drug users are currently unemployed which is approximately 17% of the U.S workforce.
  • Substance abuse has been linked to 40% of accidents in the workplace and 60% of all poor job performances.
  • The effects of substance abuse in the workplace include premature death and fatal accidents, absenteeism or extra sick leave, and reduced productivity.
  • Men with jobs which can be classified as “blue-collar” are 3.5 times more likely to die from an alcohol-related disease than men who are managers.
  • Women with “routine jobs” such as cleaning and sewing are 5.7 times more likely to die than those with white-collar jobs from an alcohol-related disease.
  • Drug-testing programmes across the UK show that substance abuse in the workplace is increasing significantly.
  • The last tests conducted on the general workforce in 2016 show the highest drug positivity within a span of 12 years. These include a major increase in positivity for cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines.
  • Most problem drinkers are noted to be from fields such as, construction and mining, wholesale, retail, leisure and hospitality, and installation/maintenance and repair.
  • The highest rate of drug abuse was also noticed in fields such as food preparation and serving, construction, arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, sales, and installation/maintenance and repair.
  • 83% of employees who have been hungover at work admit that it makes a difference in the way that they work; 33% of employees admit to having been to work with a hangover and 22% admit to having made mistakes at the workplace as a result of being hungover.
  • 80% of studies show that alcohol-related work issues come from social drinkers and not frequent alcohol drinkers.


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