Drug abuse at work

Other Names:
Drugs in the workplace
Drug taking by employees
Drug use by workers

Most of the world's drug users are 18 to 35 years of age, are employed and carry their behaviour to the workplace. In many professional circles, drug abuse has taken on an aura of toleration or acceptability. Like worker alcoholism, drug addiction is a serious threat to the safety and productivity of industry. Furthermore, States cannot maintain armed forces or protect their citizens from crime if drug abuse is widespread in the military and in law enforcement agencies. It is the consumer who eventually bears the brunt of the economic costs of drug use in the workplace by having to buy inferior goods at higher prices established to offset the increased operating costs.

Widespread drug use in the workplace generates a number of serious management problems. It affects absenteeism, morale, and the quality of the products and services companies provide. There are many accounts of drugs being sold on work premises to and by employees. Efforts by concerned individuals and managers to stop these activities are often met with violence and intimidation. Some companies have resorted to drastic law enforcement actions in an effort to bring this criminal activity under control : the use of "drug-sniffing" dogs, body searches, searches of personal property and lie-detector tests are becoming more and more frequent. The mere presence of criminal activity in a work environment breeds suspicion, both by co-workers who want the activity stopped and by the criminals themselves who fear being caught and prosecuted.


Drug users spend £200 million or more each year in London alone. According to the Confederation of British Industry, a good portion of this amount goes for drugs used in the workplace. The National Institute of Drug Abuse in the USA estimated that each abuser on its payroll costs an employer $7,000 a year for items such as medical expenses, accidents and theft. 18% of the employees of a manufacturer of office furniture tested positive on drug use using hair sample analysis (8.4% for cocaine, 3.5% for marijuana and 6.1% for other drugs, including opiates).

Related Problems:
Alcoholic intoxication at work
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST