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Drug recognition program available for Texas employers

HUNTSVILLE, TX -- Texas employers can learn about the signs and symptoms of drug impairment among workers at an inaugural program being held at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) June 14. The free, six-hour program will be available to all Texas employers after Sept. 1, 2011.

The program, funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), will target 600 Texas employers, including human resources personnel, owners and executive staff. The training includes how to recognize impairment from illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as alcohol, and is designed to make Texas roads safer. Participants will be offered sample drug policies and local contact for employee assistance programs.

The consequences of drug use on the job are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 75 percent of all adults using illicit drugs are employed, as well as most binge drinkers and heavy alcohol users. Nationally, for example, full-time workers aged 18-49 who reported any current illicit drug use were more likely than those reporting no current illicit drug use to have:

  • worked for three or more employers in the past year;
  • taken an unexcused absence from work in the past month;
  • voluntarily left an employer in the last year; or
  • been fired by an employer in the last year.

According to a survey sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, illicit drug-using employees are more likely:

  • to request early dismissal or time off;
  • to have absences of eight days or more;
  • to be late for work;
  • to be involved in a workplace accident; and
  • to file workers' compensation.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of on- and off-the-job accidental deaths in the U.S. In addition to making roads safer, addressing substance abuse issues can save companies money. In Texas, employers can save an estimated $13,514 a year in health care and related costs for each employee identified with a drug and alcohol issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Texas employers spend $4.3 billion a year as the result of employee traffic accidents.

The pre-pilot program will host businesses and officials from Walker County, included representatives from SHSU, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville Memorial Hospital, the City of Huntsville, the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce, the Walker County District Attorney's Office, and ARAMARK.


Contact: Beth Kuhles
Sam Houston State University

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