Founded in 1989, the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace is a national coalition of major employers and employer organizations dedicated to serving the common interests of major employers and employees in promoting substance-abuse-free workplaces.
The Institute is active in helping shape policy on drug-testing and substance-abuse-prevention issues at the national, state and local levels in the regulatory, legislative and legal areas, and in representing the employer community to the media and in public forums. The Institute also has an extensive publications agenda, including for employee education and awareness programs. The Institute’s flagship publication, the Guide to State and Federal Drug-Testing Laws, written by Mark A. de Bernardo with Matt Niemann, is a 1,450-page, two-volume analysis of all court decisions, legislative enactments, and regulations impacting employers’ and employees’ rights and responsibilities in the area of substance-abuse prevention, the 16th edition of which was printed in December 2013.

What Hasn’t Worked in Promoting Drug-Free Workplaces

American society, especially employers and employees and including young people, has gotten the message and fully understands that heroin, cocaine, LSD and methamphetamines, and even tobacco are addictive and dangerous, and a serious threat to health. That message has been successful. Less successful has been the message on the use of marijuana and the misuse of prescription drugs. In recent years, we have seen alarming trends in terms of usage, but also in terms of the public misunderstanding of the dangerous and addictive nature of these drugs, and the severe health and safety consequences of their escalating use and of dependency on them. This is having a corresponding negative impact in the workplace despite employers’ best efforts.

What Has Worked in Promoting Drug-Free Workplaces

Employers have gotten religion on substance-abuse prevention. The serving of alcohol is much less prevalent at company functions. Drug education and awareness programs are much more common, more comprehensive and better. The nexus between substance abuse and workplace safety and health – and employee health overall – is better understood and appreciated. Employee Assistance Programs are now the norm, not the exception, compared to 25 years ago. But more importantly and effectively, job-applicant and employee drug-testing are now the norm – and an effective and cost-effective tool for preventing substance abuse and creating incentives for individuals to stop – or not start- using drugs illicitly. Drug testing works – it is that simple.