Employer-sponsored drug-free workplace programs play an important role in reducing the demand for drugs and achieving a drug-free workforce. Not only do they make workplaces safer and more productive by detecting and deterring use, they also can serve as a critical, and often first step, along the road to treatment or recovery for individuals addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
However, such programs are not as effective in compelling job seekers who currently use drugs to stop using or seek help. Applicants denied jobs because of a pre-employment drug testing, as well as employees terminated because of drug policy violations, are likely to seek work where drug-free workplace programs are not in place. Given that the nation’s workforce development system is charged with helping employers find qualified, dependable workers by providing job preparation services to job seekers, this system has the power to play an important role in achieving a drug-free workforce.
Countless people in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs are valuable, productive employees who contribute positively to their communities. However, untreated, addiction can impede an individual’s ability to develop skills and obtain employment, sometimes leading the person into a revolving door of public assistance or crime. Taking steps to coordinate substance abuse treatment and workforce development services, typically delivered independently of each other, can maximize resources and help break this cycle.
Substance abuse treatment and workforce development service providers often work with the same population, but may lack a clear understanding of how their respective systems operate and what services they offer. By better understanding the basics about addiction, treatment and recovery, workforce development personnel can better serve the employers who turn to them for skilled, dependable workers by assisting job seekers with a history of alcohol and drug abuse to secure employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency. Likewise, by learning about the nation’s workforce development system, substance abuse treatment providers may be better equipped to help their clients find jobs during or following treatment.
The following links provide more information about workforce development and opportunities for addressing substance abuse problems among job seekers: