Historically, substance abuse increases when things are bad in the world, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
After 9/11, the National Institutes of Health reported that with the stress of the times, people often resort to substance use (or relapse) to cope.
From a recent Medscape Article:
After Hurricane Katrina , substance abuse disorders in New Orleans soared—with alcohol and drug consumption associated with a greater risk for post-traumatic stress disorder—while the events of 9/11 led to an increase in binge drinking and substance use and abuse in those touched by the tragedy.
Examples are easy to find. Most people understand that stress, mental health and substance use are all entwined. In stressful times, many turn to drugs and alcohol.
And with COVID-19?
It may be worse.
With unemployment at record levels, people cooped up in their homes, and the pervasive anxiety that goes with a global pandemic, the following headlines are all too common.
- Pandemic drives alcohol sales — and raises concerns about substance abuse
- MARIJUANA SALES SPIKE DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
- What Lockdown? World’s Cocaine Traffickers Sniff at Movement Restrictions
- Illinois recreational marijuana sales up during pandemic
- Coronavirus Pandemic Boosts Marijuana Sales While Many Businesses Struggle
- All-day happy hour? Americans drinking while working at home in pandemic, surveys say
What does this mean for employers?
If you are hiring new folks, remember that there are a lot of people looking for work, and this is an opportunity to be selective. And with marijuana easily available in many states, there is increased risk for employers [Can you test for marijuana?]. A drug-free workplace is safer and more productive. Drug testing is an effective screening tool. If you don’t have a drug-free workplace, this is a good time to start.
If you are bringing back furloughed or laid-off employees, a pre-employment drug test is definitely warranted. It would not be shocking to find that employees who have been sheltering at home have picked up (or resumed) bad habits that may affect safety and productivity.
For DOT-regulated employers, nothing has changed. Random drug testing requirements have not changed, and employers are expected to complete all random drug and alcohol tests.
Need help with drug testing? Look no further: inoutlabs.com or 847-657-7900