1 in 12 Employess Report Illicit Drug Use
> 7/17/2007 2:05:20 PM

According to a study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 1 in 12 workers in the US admitted to have used illicit drugs within the past month. Groups reporting the highest percentages of drug use held full time blue collar positions such as restaurant employees (17.4 percent) and construction workers (15.1 percent). On the other end, educators and social workers (4 percent) represented some of the lowest rates of drug use when classified by occupation. Marijuana was, as usual, the most commonly reported drug of choice.

Gender appeared to play a significant role in determining the likelihood of drug use: the study found that the largest percentage of workers reporting illicit drug use were men, who accounted for two-thirds of the users (6.4 million). Perhaps this discrepancy resulted in part from the fact that men were more willing (at 9.7 percent) than women (6.2 percent) to admit that they had used illicit drugs within the past month.

The study's accumulated numbers were, of course, inversely correlated to age demographics: the highest percentage of those who reported use of illicit drugs within the last month were younger workers, ages 18 to 25 (at 19 percent). 26 to 34 year olds accounted for 10.3 percent, with 35 to 49 year olds at 7 percent. Not fit to be dismissed outright, 50 to 64 year olds reported usage at a respectable 2.6 percent.

Anne Skinstad, a researcher and clinical psychologist, called the finding "very worrisome" considering to the lack of company-funded treatment programs available to American employees. Independent surveys rate the current range of employer-assisted substance abuse programs to be insufficient at best, and understandably so, as most bosses voice a pronounced discomfort in initiating the related dialogue. Inquiries into the chemical habits of employees, they believe, are very rarely necessary unless they noticably effect the quality of work rendered.

Officials warn that the data is not intended to suggest that workplace drug is either increasing or declining. The current (admitted) usage rate among full-time workers is just 8.2 percent and, according to additional data collected by the government, nearly half of all US employees reported taking a company-issued drug test in the last year. What business owners choose to do with those tests is their own concern.

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