Heroin Use In The Workplace On The Rise

By Brent McCluskey 10/15/14

With more workers using heroin on the job, companies are starting to experience lower productivity and higher employee turnover.

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While the overall rate of reported drug use in the American workplace has fallen, the presence of heroin and other opioids is still on the rise, and it’s hurting more than just the users.

Employers across the nation are struggling with the effects of heroin in the workplace. An increasing number of workers are using on the job, and companies are suffering from lower productivity and higher turnover, not to mention an increase in accident rates.

According to research conducted by Quest Diagnostics, the overall rate of workers who tested positive for drugs declined by 18% from 2003 to 2013, but the positive rate for heroin rose by a staggering 82% from 2010 to 2013.

Mark Jurman, a plant manager at a piston factory in Marinette, Wis., said heroin use at his factory was so prominent that local drug dealers often lingered in the parking lot, waiting to sell to employees during their shift changes. “Our parking lot was seen as one of the best places in town to buy drugs,” Jurman said.

In parts of Ohio and Indiana, companies reported that many of the workers involved in work-related accidents later tested positive for heroin or other opioids. But they’re having difficulty filling vacant positions, as up to 70% of applicants fail the requisite drug test. 

Many companies have taken active steps to combat the growing heroin epidemic, including the implementation of zero-tolerance policies as well as employee-assistance programs for those seeking treatment. Some companies are even using local law enforcement to train supervisors to know how to spot a heroin user or other drug use.

“The goal is not to force them out of work,” said Brian Bourgeois, human-resources and employee-development manager at ChemDesign in Marinette. “The goal is to get them help, rehabilitate them and get them back into the workplace.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.