5 Important Considerations for Creating a Drug-Free Program in Your Organization

5 Important Considerations for Creating a Drug-Free Program in Your Organization
Last Updated: October 28, 2022

Employees need to hire trusted employees who can adequately perform their work duties, but drugs can negatively impact their performance. A drug-free workplace program can help create a supportive, encouraging environment that boosts your employee’s well-being and your ROI.

What to Consider When Creating a Drug-Free Work Program

If you plan on creating a drug-free work program, you need to have a written policy. What you write in your policy can be effective at preventing drug use or helping drug users seek help.


1. Know How to Issue and Use Drug Tests


Randomized drug tests are legal in the USA, but you can’t fire a person who fails a drug test before their sample is reviewed at an HHS-certified lab. Employers can’t fire employees who test positive for marijuana in legal states unless there’s proof they’re using THC on the job.


In your drug-free policy, you have to let employees know they’ll be tested for substance use. Give your employees a full 90 to adjust to this new program before issuing randomized tests, as hair tests will reveal 3-month-old drug use. Blood tests are the most accurate drug test type.


2. Offer Referrals to EAP’s and Rehab Clinics

In the United States, employers should refer their employees to an Employee Assistant Program (EAP). Unless the person’s addiction is severe, employers should suspend employees, not fire them. This gives employees the peace of mind that they have a job to return to after treatment.


The addition doesn’t happen overnight, and financial difficulties often contribute to the problem. If your employee refuses to get treatment, then you can consider termination. Organizations can refer to the clinic’s substance abuse software to keep track of their employee’s treatment.


3. Create an Empathetic and Caring Workplace

Drug users don’t seek help for their addictions for many reasons. First, they may be in denial that they have a problem. Second, admitting they have a problem could result in job loss or jail time. Third, the stigma around drug use is prevalent in our personal and professional lives.


If you create a workplace that’s empathetic towards drug users, they won’t feel scared to reach out. Employers can start off by using medically accurate terms when describing drug use. Terms like “addict” and “junkie” are demeaning and can make others assume recovery isn’t possible.


4. Help Employees Help Themselves

Alcohol is the most common addiction in the United States. Since the substance is legal, alcohol addiction is often underplayed and not taken as seriously as other substances. However, excess drinking is detrimental to a person’s health and is often used to mask a mental health disorder.


It’s hard to convince a drug user to seek help due to the stigma surrounding it. To overcome this hurdle, invest in self-management. Speak to staff about the symptoms of alcohol abuse, how they can receive help, and what support will be in place while they take the time to heal. 


5. Invest Heavily in Mental Health Programs

Let’s get one thing clear: addiction isn’t a choice, and there’s significant evidence that proves this. When a person tries drugs or alcohol for the first time, they’re in control, but what prompts addiction is dopamine release. Drugs release 2 to 10 times the amount your brain does.


People will often keep returning to drugs if they have a mental health disorder or aren't weaned off the drug slowly. Employers can break this cycle by investing mental health dollars into counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Committing to a work-life balance will also help.

Nicholas Mushayi

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