The Substance Abuse Costs to Society & Workplaces Are Huge

A new study of 1992 data estimates the economic costs to society of substance abuse at $246 billion for that year, and $276 billion projected for 1995. Alcohol-related lost productivity alone accounted for two-thirds of the total alcohol cost. Drug related crime accounted for over half of the total drug costs.1 Workplaces take the brunt in lost/poor performance, accidents, and crime.

Alcoholism alone accounts for 500 million lost workdays each year. Casual drinkers, in aggregate, account for far more incidents of absenteeism, tardiness, and poor quality of work than those regarded as alcohol dependent.

Between 20 and 40 percent of all general hospital patients are admitted for complications related to alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse.

The human costs to the individual, family, and community are incalculable.

Substance Abuse Is a Workplace Problem

Today, almost 73 percent of all current drug users ages 18–49 are full- or part-time employed – more than 8.3 million workers.

About 7 percent of full-time workers use illicit drugs (6.3m), and about 7 percent are heavy drinkers.5 ¨ About 1.2 million full-time workers both abuse illicit drugs and are heavy alcohol users.

The highest rate of illicit drug abuse and heavy alcohol use is among 18–25 year olds, males, Caucasian, and those with less than a high school education.

In a survey of five work sites, 18 percent of persons who drank alcohol and 12 percent of illicit drug users reported that their performance at work had declined due to alcohol or drug use.

Between 44–80 percent of young adults ages 16–17 work during the year. Those working more than 20 hours per week are at high risk for substance abuse and injury. With our youth entering the workforce in greater numbers, this is a significant issue for workplaces to address.

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