Drug Abuse: It Affects Us All
Testing for Drugs of Abuse

Substance abuse is a diagnosable and treatable illness, but helping affected individuals can be both complicated and delicate. Not all drug-dependent individuals will seek help on their own. In fact, many drug and alcohol abusers do not realize they have a problem with chemical dependency and cannot stop their self-destructive behavior.

In the interest of health and safety, many organizations have begun screening for drugs. Drug testing is used in emergency rooms for overdose situations. Other arenas include drivers arrested for possible intoxication, military personnel, probationers and individuals enrolled in drug rehabilitation programs. International professional and amateur athletic organizations and tournaments screen competitors for drugs of abuse.

Most institutions want to promote a safe, healthy and productive work environment for their employees. Drug use can affect that environment, so many companies have drug testing programs to screen job applicants and to protect employees. Companies with such programs report dramatic reductions in employee accidents, fewer sick days, and healthier employees. Successful plans tend to emphasize prevention of drug abuse, rather than punishment, as a means of promoting better health for individual employees. Companies benefit from increased productivity, safety and lower liability costs.

Seventy percent of the Fortune 500 companies screened job applicants for drugs in 1991, up from 10 percent in 1983.