2009 Drug Free Work Week 10/19-10/25, HI-LITES Myth: Absenteeism is the leading substance addiction expense for employers. Reality: Untrue! It is estimated that "presenteeism" (present at work but impaired) may be 6.5X more costly than absenteeism. In fact, many substance addicted workers are never intoxicated on the job, but are in an acute phase of detoxification, given the short acting pharmacology of alcohol and most illicit drugs. In simplest terms, this is brain-impaired presenteeism. Employer Tip: Be vigilant for substance related presenteeism (i.e. alcoholism: tremors, sweating, irritability, mistakes, poor judgment, injuries etc.). Best practice mandates immediate feedback re: symptoms/behaviors, and facilitated discussions with managers and staff to explore presenteeism solutions. Myth: Recent data published in the Wall Street Journal showing a declining rate of positive urine drug tests means that workplace substance abuse is decreasing. Reality: No scientific conclusions* can be drawn from this data about workplace substance abuse. What definitely is true is that urine drug test adulteration and substitution is big business. On the day this article was written, a web-search of "How to beat a urine drug test" returned 976,000 results! These results showed how to beat employment screening, return to duty and random drug testing, even naming specific companies and their urine drug testing protocols to ensure best-practice adulteration method! SAMHSA's substance abuse survey data shows worker substance addiction to be over 10% for decades, including the latest results from 2007 (8.8% illicit drugs and 8.9% for alcohol). The Supreme Court shares our concern, recently ruling that regardless of company policy/preference, all workers who test positive must be observed during return to duty drug testing. (workersxzcompxzkit) *[The authors have contacted the Wall Street Journal Editor to clarify any misperceptions]. Employer Tip: Consult a clinical expert about drug test contamination and the latest drug testing technologies, some of which help minimize adulteration (i.e. lab-based oral fluids testing with "non-mandated" companies). Be cautious of any research study interpretations which do not match up with SAMHSA's data. Authors: Bill White MSN and Katharine White MSN About the authors: K & B White are leadership entrepreneurs who co-founded DFW-Renaissance Inc. (www.dfw-r.com) and co-developed managerial science innovation DFW-R Lean CultureTM (to create/sustain highly engaged drug free workforces). Both are former hospital C-Suite executives with extensive drug treatment, leadership and behavioral health experience. Look for their upcoming headline article in DATIA Focus on DFW Culture Change and Employee Morale. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and phone at 401-615-8775.
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