Fifteen Shocking Facts About Employee Drug Abuse
by Nancy Rathbun Scott
If you think you don't have a drug abuse problem in your workplace, think again, says Robert Stutman, formerly with the Drug Enforcement Agency and now a private consultant.
Some Shocking Facts About Substance Abuse
1. The United States has the worst drug problem in the western hemisphere.
2. With just 5 percent of the world's population, the United States consumes 60 percent of illegal drugs.
3. In 1967, the average age for first time drug use, excluding alcohol, was 16 1/2 years old; in 1995, the age had fallen to 12 1/2.
4. A 1996 Weekly Reader survey of 250,000 fourth graders revealed that 28 percent knew somebody this age who smokes marijuana and 80 percent said marijuana is easy to obtain.
5. The use of cocaine has been declining, but the use of heroine in the United States is now increasing at a rate faster than the use of cocaine is declining.
6. LSD is the fastest growing drug for children under 15 and the most potent, yielding one million doses per ounce.
7. LSD is the only drug that causes flashbacks which result in total suspension of reality for between 10 and 20 seconds. Twenty-five percent of users -- whether one-time or multiple-time users -- will experience such flashbacks for as long as up to 20 years after use.
8. Seventy-seven percent of drug addicts in the United States are white. African Americans are under-represented among addicts as compared to whites.
9. Per capita drug use in rural areas is as widespread as in large urban areas.
10. Alcoholism among teenagers in rural areas is twice as high as among teenagers in cities.
11. Intelligence does not correlate to drug use. On survey showed that among the 1986 graduating class of Harvard Medical School, 35 percent had tried cocaine at least once.
12. On the average, 17 percent of employees are substance abusers.
13. Substance abusers, though just 17 percent of the workforce, cause 35 to 43 percent of workplace accidents involving death or injury and one-third of all accidents are directly attributable to substance abuse.
14. Construction workers have the highest rate of substance abuse-33 percent and a survey by the American Journal of Psychiatry estimates that 25 percent of people in the construction industry are diagnosed alcoholics.
15. The average workers compensation claim is $23,000. In 41 states, employers can move to deny workers comp claims if intoxication can be shown at the time of the accident.
Nancy Rathbun Scott is a business writer living in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached at Visit for more information.

@2004 Nancy Scott