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Why Workplace Drug Testing is Still Essential in 2021

The war on drugs has changed a lot in the last few decades. It may leave you wondering if drug testing is still essential or if it’s something companies can pass on altogether. The move to legalize cannabis in dozens of states has started to relax the stigma surrounding recreational drug use for many years. Despite its growing wave of legalizations, it’s still very much federally illegal, which is why most drug tests still include testing for THC, cannabis’ active ingredient.

Substance screening is an integral part of pre-employment onboarding for several other important reasons as well. For example, in workplaces where heavy machinery is used, employees under the influence can post safety risks for other employees and customers, and themselves. Other industries may see employees at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse, like medicine and emergency services and drug tests to ensure their employees are safe.

Workplace drug testing is still essential in 2021, just as it was 20 years ago. If anything, it’s becoming more critical every day. Let’s look at why.



Cannabis May Be Legal in Many States, But It Still Can Cause Concerns for Employers

Currently, cannabis is legal in 16 states in America. Forty-eight states now allow for some form of medical cannabis prescription. However, according to the federal government, cannabis is still a schedule 1 drug. So, what does this mean for your company?

The use of recreational cannabis leads to impaired function and can affect a person’s long- and short-term memory. It is not without risks. Employees who use this drug can increase safety and liability issues, especially if they are under the influence at work. 

With the drug still being federally illegal, employers are still free to test for its presence and enforce a drug-free policy, even if it’s legal in your state. Its widespread favor and rapid legalization are solid reasons for employers to implement workplace substance testing. Employees are now much more likely to use the drug now that the legal consequences are waning.


Opiate Addiction Is on The Rise

You can’t read a newspaper headline without coming across the national opiate crisis. According to the CDC, more than 70% of drug overdose-related deaths in 2019 were from opioids. What was once considered a drug that only criminals would interact with had become a widespread epidemic that has likely touched someone you know.

While heroin is the most known opioid, there are other common ones prescribed freely every day. Prescriptions like Vicodin and Percocet are given to people for everything from a toothache to a sprained ankle. It doesn’t take much to get addicted to these pain killers, and it’s so common that according to, 1 in 3 people knows someone addicted to prescription painkillers.

There is no way to tell if someone is addicted to drugs just by looking at them. Soccer coaches, police officers, moms, and everyday people are all equally at risk. When a person is on an opioid, they will experience several bodies and mind-related effects that can affect their ability to work.  Experiences of drowsiness and cloudy thinking are typical, as well as delayed reaction times.

With opiate addiction spreading rapidly through the country and touching every demographic, drug testing can help ensure the safety of your future employees and the clients you serve.


Certain Professions Are at a High-Risk for Drug Addiction

Some jobs are more challenging than others; it’s just fact. When human beings experience high stress levels, they look for something to help them cope with that stress. Grabbing a drink after work or during a stressful workweek is a common way to unwind for most of the working force in the country. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a few cocktails, there are sometimes that the high stress that certain employees experience can lead to problems down the road.

Take police officers, for example. Their jobs are so stressful that suicide rates are eight times higher for active officers than those who have retired or left the force. Uncontrolled stress typically leads to increased incidences of mental health issues. Since mental health issues often lead to high drug and alcohol abuse rates, there are industries where drug testing is essential and necessary to protect their employees’ safety.

Another example is the stressors that the global pandemic brought in 2020, like extreme isolation and fear. This also increases alcohol and drug abuse risk, especially in industries where essential workers were on the front lines every day.


It Reduces Liability

When you own a business, you are responsible for everything that occurs within its walls. If a customer or employee gets injured, you become liable. If equipment breaks down or is faulty and causes damage, this is also your responsibility. This can lead to expensive insurance premiums and even lawsuits that may result in financial challenges for your company.

A great way to reduce liability is by enforcing mandatory workplace drug testing. While you can’t control when accidents happen, you can ensure that your employees are safe and clear-minded to the job you hired them to do. 

Workplace drug testing also can save employers thousands of workers’ compensation premiums. Because drug-free workplaces have lower rates of accidents, insurance companies tend to reward employers with lower premiums for ensuring reduced liability.


It Increases Safety

Accidents happen, but we always want to make sure that we do our best to ensure the safety of our employees and customers. Safety-related accidents increase insurance premiums and also cause delays in getting the job done, which costs money.

 Depending on the company, employees and customers can interact with heavy machinery or products that can potentially cause harm. Ensuring that your employees are drug-free gives you the peace of mind to know that they don’t have anything else affecting their abilities to make decisions.



Ensuring a Safe and Healthy Workplace is Important, Let Us Help You

Keeping your employees and customers safe is a top priority in every industry. Administering mandatory workplace drug testing is just one step in ensuring a thriving work environment.

Countrywide Testing is an online retailer of drug and alcohol testing and lab services. Our products include pregnancy tests, medical supplies, multi-panel drug tests, and more. We also work with a SAMHSA, ISO, CLIA, and CAP licensed laboratory, which means you can rest easy knowing your samples get processed by a government-trusted facility. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, contact us today to learn more!