Feb 9, 2014

Curb drug abuse; improve the bottom line

BY BOB ROBINSON
ASSOC. EDITOR

GREENVILLE – “About 70 percent of workplace accidents are due to some sort of drug impairment,” said Adriane Scherrer, CEO of Enhancements to Your Workplace, Inc. She added there are many underlying costs as well.

She noted lost productivity, excessive use of healthcare benefits, theft and morale damage to the work team. There is also the cost associated when a family member requires the worker to take time off the job to deal with “family emergencies.” The number one reason however is employee safety. “The costs associated with an ineffective safety program can be staggering,” she said in a printed handout at the Jan. 31 Darke County Chamber of Commerce Groundhog Day breakfast.

“In our society, the gateway is alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs” then beyond to harder drugs such as meth, cocaine and heroin. It causes problems in education for instance, she said. About 40 to 42 percent of all high school graduates going to college have to spend money for remedial courses that won’t count toward their degree program. It also causes problems as these young people begin to enter the workplace. “Out of 1,800 youth, 206 (11 percent) already have an alcohol problem,” she said. “Of those, 173 (83 percent) reach adulthood with no intervention.”

Scherrer added the increasing numbers in young people are due to previous family members being addicted.

“We have 5 percent of the world population,” she said. “Yet we consume 70 percent of illegal drugs.”

She talked about a dad who gives Vicodin to his daughter to control the pain in her arm when she pitches a game.

“They just don’t understand what they’re doing!” she exclaimed. “These drugs are terrible! They are more potent than ever before. Kentucky grown marijuana? The first time you use it, it impacts your judgment for three to 10 days!”

She added a couple “tokes” a day could lead to more than 100 days of detectable impairment, probably closer to 125-140.

“The users don’t think they’re impaired… that’s because they’re feeling it!”

Scherrer talked about “your brain” on drugs… it starts with a seemingly good conversation with good eye contact, then… “what?” Infrequent use leads to short term memory loss; both students and employees. Frequent use leads to long term memory loss. If they do it long enough, they stop caring. “Just try to get them to care!”

She talked about a doctor she knew. He was complaining his wife doesn’t care any more about the things they want… a better life, a larger house. “Does she smoke marijuana?” He said she did. He comes home, the house reeks of it. “Do you join her?” He said on occasion. “Keep it up,” Scherrer told him, “then neither one of you will care.”

In wrapping up her presentation Scherrer warned everyone… people who are dependent on alcohol, prescription and street drugs are the best liars in the world.

To improve the bottom line; to let employees know the employer is serious about drug abuse in the workplace, businesses should require pre-employment drug screens, use random testing and ‘for cause’ testing (recognizing a possible problem before it becomes a safety issue).

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