With High Addiction, OK Makes Employee Drug Testing Easier


In a follow-up on high addiction rates in Oklahoma, The Oklahoman reports that drug abuse is estimated to cost U.S. employers $276 billion a year, and three-fourths, or 76 percent, of people with a drug or alcohol problem are employed. Employees coping with drug and alcohol abuse are less productive and more likely to waste time at work by taking long lunch breaks, leaving early, or sleeping on the job. They have increased health care expenses — costing their employers twice as much as other employees, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Drug testing and implementing a company Employee Assistance Program (known as EAP) are two ways employers control costs related to substance abuse. Amendments to the Oklahoma Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act aim to give employers more latitude in drug testing employees and reduce their cost of unemployment insurance by denying claims to former workers who were let go for failing a drug test. Previously, employers could subject an individual worker to drug testing if the employer had reasonable suspicion. The amendments began “for cause” testing, expanding the circumstances leading to a drug test, including negative performance patterns and excessive or unexplained absenteeism or tardiness.

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