True Face of Drug Use

True Face of Drug Use
Posted by FoM on September 09, 1999 at 07:27:51 PT
Research disputes image of abusers as derelicts
Source: Dallas Morning News
Seventy percent of illicit-drug users work full time and are not the popularly depicted unemployed person on the street, according to a federal report released Wednesday.
Nearly 8 percent of adult workers between the ages of 18 and 49 - an estimated 6.3 million people - had used illegal drugs in the month preceding the 1997 interviews by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.The interviews found that the most likely illicit-drug user was a white man working for a business with fewer than 25 employees."When you look at the ratio breakdown, it reminds us that the stereotype we often see and hear is not occurring," said Westley Clark, director of the administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment."The typical drug abuser is not poor and unemployed," agreed Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a written statement. "He or she can be a co-worker, a husband or wife, a parent."Marijuana was the most commonly cited illicit drug, with 81 percent of respondents reporting they had used it. Of those, more than 60 percent said they used marijuana exclusively.Others reported using various drugs in the month before the interviews. About 19 percent used sedatives or tranquilizers, and 11.9 percent used cocaine.The incidence of drug use was highest among food-service and construction workers.The report found that 19 percent of food-preparation workers, waiters, waitresses and bartenders had used illegal drugs. Dr. Clark attributed this to irregular working hours, stress and greater accessibility to drugs.At least 14 percent of construction workers interviewed admitted drug use, while 13 percent of other service industry personnel and 10 percent of transportation industry employees said they used drugs in the month before the interview.One expert said drug use is more common in those industries because the workforce is generally younger. While drug use among teens is down, it has not decreased among 18- to 25-year-olds, many of whom work in these industries, said Joseph Califano, Jr., president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University."It's troubling that so many American workers have used drugs," Mr. Califano said. "But it's a wonderful opportunity for employers, businesses and unions to get at this problem and educate employees about the dangers of using drugs.Paul Paz , president of the Oregon-based National Waiters Association, which represents an estimated 2,500 people nationwide, said few restaurants use drug testing for their hourly employees."Essentially employers are the ones in a position to influence this," he said. "If they had to let 19 percent of all of their staff go, they'd be in a world of hurt. There's a business perspective that we'll tolerate it to a point until there is a serious jeopardy to the bottom line."Exploring optionsRestaurants are aware of the problem and are exploring solutions, including employee-assistance programs, said Caitlin Storhaug,a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation."It's an ongoing issue in many industries, and we want to solve the problem," Ms. Storhaug said. "There's not a one-size-fits-all, silver-bullet answer for any industry. Every company is going to have to cater to their environment and their employees."Dr. Clark said it is imperative for companies to develop drug policies."Workplace policies matter," he said.Workers who reported their employer did not have a written drug policy were twice as likely to use drugs than those whose company had a policy, Dr. Clark said. Similarly, employees not subjected to random drug testing were twice as likely to use drugs than those who underwent regular testing.Stringent random drug testing policies have enabled Dallas Area Rapid Transit to keep the rate of drug use to less than 2 percent of its 1,800-employee workforce, said Ben Gomez, vice president of human resources."Our workforce is used to knowing that coming to work and going home, some people are going to get tested," Mr. Gomez said. "It happens on a regular basis."Random testing occurs almost daily - DART tests 50 percent of its safety-sensitive positions for drug use each year. First-time offenders have access to treatment unless it is a post-accident test, Mr. Gomez said.Years of surveyThe report released Wednesday examined data from 7,055 respondents in 1994 and 7,957 respondents in 1997 who were working more than 35 hours a week at the time of the interview.The two industries with the highest incidence of drug use - food service and construction - also provided employees the least amount of information about drugs, the study found.The report also showed that only 27 percent of workers in the smallest companies had access to an employee-assistance program. By comparison, 61 percent of employees in midsize and 75 percent in large companies had access to programs."We believe smaller companies probably figure that their bottom line doesn't permit it," said Dr. Clark.He also said he believes record-low unemployment may be contributing to the problem. In a competitive job market, employers may look the other way, Dr. Clark said."Employers will say 'I won't see what's obvious until it's completely obvious.' "09/09/99By Krista Larson - The Dallas Morning News©1999 The Dallas Morning NewsSeven in 10 Drug Users are Full-Time Workers - 9/08/99
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Comment #1 posted by Kingpin on September 09, 1999 at 21:56:21 PT:
Seven in 10 Drug Users are Full-Time Workers - 9/8
I was going to make several comments on this article but then I saw that profanity was discouraged. Too bad, because a proper response to such nauseating propaganda would include a string of expletives that would make your monitor steam!
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