Addiction does not respect the dignity of work. It does not take a sabbatical, so workers can do their jobs without the urge to imbibe alcohol or ingest drugs, without the craving for a liter of booze or an ounce of cocaine. The drunkenness does not stop-and the mania does not cease-when a person arrives at the office.
Alcoholism alone claims 79,000 lives every year, while the United States spends $16 billion on medical care for alcohol-related complications.
The numbers concerning opioids are even worse, since 4.3 million Americans engage in nonmedical use of this drug each month. The overall cost, based on a study published by the American Bar Association (ABA), is $400 billion per year.
Establishing a drug-free workplace is, therefore, a necessity. It may be the greatest reason for workers to seek assistance, and for employers to subsidize treatment, so long as drug testing is efficient and accurate.
The testing is, however, dependent on the collectors themselves: the individuals who do the tests, gather the samples, maintain chain of custody, and vouch for the results. Without that training, workers can not only cheat the system but cheat themselves by further ruining their health and weakening their bodies.
According to Andrew Easler, who is an expert regarding drug testing coursework: "If employers cannot trust the collectors, the machinery of work grinds to a halt. The gears themselves come undone, spraying steam here and shooting bolts there, until the whole thing collapses in a pile of sparks and debris. Such is the case for companies that use the wrong collectors."
That metaphor also applies to the economy as a whole: an organic creature whose strength weakens or tires in proportion to how much excess it endures, whose health reflects the cumulative health of 150 million members of the nation's workforce.
The force of that creature-with its many muscles of manufacturing and its vast network of synapses-that creature cannot work if it is ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished; if it is a casualty of vice; if it is unable to defeat the viciousness of addiction.
If we cannot test that creature for drugs, we cannot help it recover from its appetite for drugs. If the collectors have the minimum training the law requires, while they require nothing more of themselves, we cannot heal.
If the collectors do not take courses that emphasize excellence, we cannot excel. If the collectors have a certificate but no wisdom, no one can benefit from the intelligence that is available-online-right now.
- The collectors represent what they know, which too often is too little.
- Change begins, then, with the quality of the instruction they receive and the depth of the courses they take. Without that training, they are not fit to take or test drug samples.
- Companies cannot flourish amidst so much doubt and uncertainty.
- They deserve something better.
- They deserve a culture that values drug testing.
- They deserve a guarantee that the collectors are models of professionalism.
- They deserve all of these things - and more.