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Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have done drugs on the job, survey finds

(Flickr/Heath Alseike)
LISTEN: More people getting high at work

PHOENIX — The opioid epidemic has officially manifested itself in the workplace, a recent survey has found.

The survey from Detox.com found that, out of 1,121 people surveyed, nearly 7 in 10 American workers said they have done drugs on the job or while heading to their job.

In addition, the survey found that retail and food/beverage workers were the most likely to do drugs at work and 17 percent of those surveyed said they did opiates on the job, the highest percentage of drugs found.

The workers who were second-most likely to do drugs at work were in the education and healthcare industries. Many of those surveyed said they used drugs due to anxiety, boredom or addiction.

David Larimer, program director at the Scottsdale Recovery Center, said by doing drugs on the job, workers could put their own safety — and the safety of those around them — at risk.

“It compromises safety. It impacts communication — the person’s ability to address detail, in particular,” he said.

Larimer added that workers doing drugs on the job often have problems in addition to their addiction.

“[It’s] typically a mental-health issue, whether it’s anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the folks we see at [Scottsdale Recovery Center] have both an addiction and a mental health issue.”

But workers who decide that they want help have some legal protection, Larimer added.

“From an employer perspective…I can’t talk about a drug problem until the person talks to me about it,” he said. “Once they do, it falls under the human-resources protection.

“What I can talk about is, ‘Hey. I’m noticing that your behavior has taken a dramatic dip. You’re absent more, the quality of your work isn’t up to par, what’s going on?’”

Larimer said employers usually have a pretty good idea that something is going on regarding their employees and it is a huge relief to the employer when their employees come forward.

But Larimer said whatever employees or employers decide to do, on-the-job drug use is a problem that needs to be addressed — and now.

“This is impacting all of us,” he said. “This is a $78 billion problem right now that’s impacting employers…and our productivity as a country.”

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