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Partnership For a Drug Free America Launches Small Business Campaign


October 1995

On June 22 the Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) announced a new advertising campaign to call attention to the problem of drug use by employees in small businesses.

The organization also released a survey of employees that found that one-third of workers thought that someone they work with uses or has used drugs in the past few years.

Richard D. Bonnette, president and CEO of PDFA called workers' drug use a "bottom-line issue." "Seventy-one percent of all current drug users in this country are employed, and they're costing businesses -- especially small- and medium-sized companies billions of dollars each year," he said.

Bonnette said that employees' drug use costs businesses between $60 and $140 billion every year. While large companies and corporations are for the most part testing their employees for drug use (87 percent test current or potential employees), about 80 percent of all workers are employed by small- or medium-sized businesses, which are less likely to have such programs.

"Owners of small companies are too busy managing day-to-day operations and making the payroll to realize that substance abuse may be eating away at their bottom line," said William J. Kaufmann, president of the National Drugs Don't Work Partnership, a non-profit organization that helps small businesses establish anti-drug programs. "Business owners don't always connect increased insurance premiums, workers' compensation claims, absenteeism and decreased productivity to substance abuse, but that's where the money drain often begins."

Although many small business owners think that dealing with employees' substance abuse problems is difficult, James Copple, director of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America said it is easier than many think. "When you give a worker a choice between getting high and getting paid, smart employees go for the paycheck. The others head for the door," he said.

The national survey, conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ for PDFA, found that 62 percent of those polled support mandatory drug tests for all employees. Participants were employees at companies of all sizes, with 69% being from small- or medium-sized companies with fewer than 1000 employees. Respondents supported other programs in even greater numbers:

Drug Awareness and Education Programs .... 85%
Counseling and Treatment Programs
   for Illegal Drug Abuse ................ 84%
Written Policies Against Drug Abuse ...... 83%
Mandatory Drug Testing for Employees
   in Safety-Sensitive Positions
   (i.e., construction, transportation) .. 78%
Random Drug Testing ...................... 69%

PDFA's advertising campaign will use television, print, and radio ads to encourage small businesses to implement anti-drug programs. The ads include the 1-800 number 1-800-WORKPLACE for small business owners to get in touch with the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and to receive information from Drugs Don't Work.

[For more information, contact the PDFA at 405 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10174, 212-922-1560.]