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High times in the U.S. labor pool

Janet Babin Jul 16, 2007


Lisa Napoli: A new government survey finds one in 12 U.S. workers has gotten high in the past month. Marketplace’s Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.

Janet Babin: The survey from the Health and Human Services Department found that illicit drug use was highest among men in restaurant and construction jobs. Teachers and social service workers had the lowest rates.

Peter Cholakis says the government’s numbers are understated. He’s with drug-testing company Avitar. And while the government survey finds that most people’s drug of choice is marijuana, Cholakis says that’s not the biggest problem companies have.

Peter Cholakis: To my knowledge, there’s no long term effect of marijuana use, so if someone smokes up on the weekend, yes it’s illegal, but does it affect their job performance? Probably not. Hard drugs, specifically prescriptions drugs, are the problem in today’s workplace.

Cholakis says addiction costs employers more than $180 billion a year in lost productivity and accidents. He says the only thing that stops drug use is supervised testing.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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