Addiction and substance abuse have continued to be heavy issues within the United States. Many people believe that those struggling with substances are unlikely to be employed. While this may be true for some users, there is a significant portion of the workforce currently struggling with drugs and alcohol. Continue reading below to learn more about the prevalence of addiction in the workplace.

The Dangers of Addiction in the Workplace

Unfortunately, addiction is a disease that affects more than just the user, especially in the workplace. Addiction and substance abuse on the job can lead to several issues and dangers. It can increase many risks for the user and co-workers, including workplace injuries, mistakes, interpersonal disputes, and more. 

How Many Workers Are Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol in the United States?

It can certainly be difficult to maintain a job when addicted to drugs or alcohol, but a majority of those struggling do. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), two-thirds of adults struggling with alcohol or illicit drug use are employed. The report further details that 16% of those struggling with illicit drug use disorder aged 18-25 and 5.4% of those aged 26+ were employed full-time in 2020.  

Alcohol use disorder has even more staggering statistics when it comes to employment. In 2020, 19% of those with alcohol use disorder aged 18-25 and 12.8% of those aged 26+ were employed full-time. This may be attributed to the legality of alcohol and the fact that it can be hidden easily by adding to their coffee or other beverages throughout the day. 

It is important to reiterate that these percentages only break down full-time employees struggling with specific substances. As mentioned above, two-thirds of those struggling with substances are currently employed, whether it be full-time, part-time, or another type of employment. 

Discovering Addiction in the Workplace

As mentioned above, many of those struggling with addiction in the workplace go unnoticed. This means that the company may have to take measures to discover it themselves, which can be accomplished through drug testing policies. 

Many companies have a drug testing policy in the hiring process but do not enforce much past that. This allows drug users to get by as long as they can hold off to pass one test. However, companies should enforce testing after any accidents or injuries, and in some cases, random testing. 

How to Decrease Addiction at Work

Addiction is still surrounded by a heavy stigma within our society, and this is especially true in the workplace. Many of those struggling may want to seek treatment but are afraid that it will cost them their job. 

This can be remedied by implementing a Workplace Supported Recovery (WSR) program, which is part of the Total Worker Health® program recommended by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). A WSR incorporates elements like:

  • Injury and Illness Prevention 
  • Reduce difficult workplace conditions that could lead to frequent or chronic pain
  • Offer information and care resources for substance use disorders
  • Ofer a path back to work after treatment
  • Promote a work culture of support for those in recovery
  • And more

Read more about Workplace Supported Recovery and the Total Worker Health program here

Reliable Drug Testing in the Workplace

If you are seeking accurate and reliable tests for the workplace, Soteria Screening Laboratories is here to help. We offer a wide array of tests to cover various needs, whether it be urine tests, hair follicles, extensive panel tests, DOT tests, and more. We also have a network of collection facilities if you would prefer off-site testing.

If you have any questions, you can reach us by phone at 202-679-6670 or by email at We look forward to helping you create a safe and drug-free workplace.

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