Drug Rehab: A Groundbreaking Solution to the Shrinking Job Pool?

Marianna* was excited about her new job. After enduring three grueling interviews, she finally received the news that an offer letter was on the way.

All that remained to be done? A standard background check and drug test.

Unfortunately, Marianna failed the drug test. She didn’t get the job, and the opening sat vacant for another six months, costing the employer in lost revenue and productivity.

Marianna’s case is not uncommon.

In fact, the number of U.S. workers failing drug tests is the highest it has been since 2004, according to a Quest Diagnostics study. The legalization of marijuana in several states is sure to be contributing to that rise; however, there were also across-the-board increases for nearly every other drug, including cocaine and methamphetamines.

Drugs are not all employers have to worry about…alcoholism is also increasing.

The number of U.S. adults with an alcohol problem has risen sharply – up an astounding 49% from 2000 to 2010. One in 8 adults can be classified as having an alcohol use disorder as of 2013.

What This Means to You

If you are an employer, chances are good that you have at least one employee with a drug or alcohol problem…and, if you are hiring, you are coming across candidates with the same issue.

In an already tight labor market, this can have a serious effect on your bottom line.

In March, for the first time in U.S. history, there were more jobs than people looking for work. This shortly-held record was shattered again in April. Just to give you a sense of perspective, at the beginning of the Great Recession, there were 6.7 people for every available job.

With lost revenue pressure piling up each month, it’s not as simple as just moving on to the next candidate.

A Lightbult Goes Off, Drug Rehab FloridaA Lightbulb Goes Off

Indiana-based Belden Electric has taken a groundbreaking approach to dealing with this issue in a meaningful way.

The company is experiencing a “manufacturing renaissance,” as CEO John Stroup was quoted saying in a CNN article. Unfortunately, he, like many other employers, couldn’t find enough qualified workers to keep up with the increased demand due to the epidemic of drug use sweeping the nation.

For Belden’s part, Stroup chose to tackle the situation head on… and it’s working.

He came to a surprising conclusion after crunching the numbers: It would be less expensive to pay for job candidates to get sober than to leave jobs unfilled.

Here’s how it works: If a job candidate or current employee fails a drug test yet still wants to be employed by Belden, the company will send them for evaluation at an addiction treatment center.
Those who are deemed “low risk” in terms of developing an addiction can still work at the company, just not in a job operating heavy equipment – until they log two months with no failed drug tests.

Those who are considered to be at “high risk” for addiction go through a treatment program.

The benefits don’t stop with the dollars, though. Knowing there is a job waiting for them, candidates are incentivized to complete drug addiction treatment and stay sober.

Belden Electric can also count on a high level of motivation and willingness to work hard from those who go through the program. A National Safety Council study showed that employees who’ve recovered from drug and alcohol addiction are actually absent less than employees who never had an addiction.

Belden’s approach is radical, especially compared to the days (not too long ago) when employers would simply go on to the next candidate or fire a current employee for not passing a drug test.

Drug Rehab Pays Off, Calculator, Foundations Wellness Center, FloridaCost vs. Benefit

Could this trailblazing approach work in other industries as well? How about your business in particular?

There is a way to find out.

You’ll find a Substance Use Cost Calculator at the National Safety website (nsc.org/forms/substance-use-employer-calculator). Based on your industry, location, and number of employees, the calculator will provide your estimated cost of substance abuse. This cost can then be weighed against the cost of sending employees for treatment.

For positions that are going unfilled, the calculation is simply this: How much revenue or productivity are you losing each month? This number will tell you if the cost of treatment is worth it. (Consider that it could take three months or longer to find an employee in this tight market).

Remember, too, that having another employee try to cover for an open position is not nearly as effective as having a capable employee on the job. Even in a best-case scenario, the current employee will struggle to fulfill the minimum required for both jobs.

Drug-Rehab-A-groundbreaking-solution-to-the-shrinking-job-pool-it-is-for-this-Indiana-Based-Employer-Foundations-Wellness-Center-Help-Hand-1024x768Treat the Problem…or Ignore It?

Some employers have chosen to abandon drug tests altogether in response to the shrinking labor pool. A Bloomberg article reported that AutoNation, the Denver Post, and Las Vegas based Excellence Health had ceased giving drug tests to at least some of their applicants. Other companies are dropping marijuana from the drugs tested, especially in states where recreational use is legal.

This can be a tempting option, as it solves the immediate problem of hiring a candidate, but is it a case of kicking the can down the road?
In other words: Are you hiring a problem?

Studies have shown that the cost of employee drug and alcohol abuse can add up – into the billions each year in the U.S. alone.
According to the National Safety Council, the cost to employers ranges from $2.7K per agricultural job to $13.5K per information and communications job – per year.

It’s not just about workplace accidents, which can be costly: Workers with a substance abuse disorder rack up more in health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover.

There is also “presenteeism,” which isn’t as easily measured as absenteeism, to consider. Presenteeism is a phenomenon where workers are on the job, but they aren’t working at their full potential – or working at all.

The challenge posed then for employers, is that you aren’t paying workers to simply show up. You are paying them to work.

The other side of the equation is the savings employers experience when employees recover from addiction by receiving treatment.

These savings range from $1.2K a year for each agriculture employee to $8.5K a year for each information and communications employee.

Drug and alcohol treatment pays for itself once employees recover – in reduced healthcare costs alone – according to research.13 Other research has shown that extended treatment typically means that the drug abuse stops and the functioning in all areas of life improves.

Foundations Wellness Center offers a nationwide program to employers as well as individual patients that includes a spectrum of care, individualized and evidence-based treatment, and an alumni program and support to prevent relapse.

*Not her real name.

Workforce Drug Positivity at Highest Rate in a Decade, Finds Analysis of More than 10 Million Drug Test Results, Quest Diagnostics, May 8, 2018.  https://www.questdiagnostics.com/home/physicians/health-trends/drug-testing

Workforce Drug Use on the Rise, EHS Today, May 31, 2017. https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/workforce-drug-use-rise-infographic
One in Eight American Adults is an Alcoholic, Study Says, the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham.


There are More Jobs than People out of Work, Something the American Economy has Never Experienced Before, CNBC, Jeff Cox, June 5, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/05/there-are-more-jobs-than-people-out-of-work.html

U.S. Job Openings Decline in February from Record Level, AP News, Christopher Rugaber, April 13, 2018.


This Company Needs Workers So Badly It’s Putting Them Through Rehab, Lydia DePillis, CNNMoney, May 22, 2018. https://money.cnn.com/2018/05/22/news/economy/employers-opioid-rehab-belden/index.html

Now Hiring: A Company Offers Drug Treatment and a Job to Addicted Applicants, National Public Radio, Inc., Yuki Noguchi, July 27, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/07/27/631557443/now-hiring-a-company-offers-drug-treatment-and-a-job-to-addicted-applicants

A Substance Use Cost Calculator for US Employers With an Emphasis on Prescription Pain Medication Misuse, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Eric Goplerud, PhD, Sarah Hodge, MPH, and Tess Benham, BS, November 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5671784/

The Coming Decline of the Employment Drug Test: Struggling to Hire, Some Companies are Relaxing Corporate Drug Policies, Bloomberg, Rebecca Greenfield and Jennifer Kaplan, March 5, 2018. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-05/the-coming-decline-of-the-employment-drug-test

A Substance Use Cost Calculator for US Employers With an Emphasis on Prescription Pain Medication Misuse, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Eric Goplerud, PhD, Sarah Hodge, MPH, and Tess Benham, BS, November 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5671784/

Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/addiction-update/drugs-and-alcohol-in-the-workplace

Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, national Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment


Justin Baksh

Chief Clinical Officer

Meet Justin Baksh, MS, LMHC, LPC, MCAP, the Chief Clinical Officer of Foundations Wellness Center. A former United States Marine, Justin holds a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and is dually licensed in Florida and Pennsylvania. He also has attained the Certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional credential.

He has over 10 years of experience working with substance use and polysubstance use disorders, as well as anxiety, depression, life stressors, life transitions, trauma, PTSD, ADHD, ADD, OCD, and a variety of other disorders using cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, biofeedback, strength-based and solution-based modalities.