Do you have a drug-free work place?

How would you know if an employee were under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances? An industry term for this is “Reasonable Suspicion,” which is a reasonable theory, not extreme or excessive, suspecting something wrong without proof or on slight evidence.

Any substance, which when taken into the human body, can impair the ability of that person to function in a “reasonable” fashion, or a marked change in consciousness. In the case of drugs, there are seven drug categories to be considered: Central Nervous System Depressants; Central Nervous System Stimulants; Hallucinogens; PCP (Phenylcyclohexylpeperidine); Narcotic Analgesic; Inhalants; and Cannabis.

A depressant, sometimes referred to as a “downer,” is a chemical agent that diminishes the function or activity of a specific part of the body. It does not make you depressed. Symptoms or signs can include reduced social inhibitions; Impaired ability to divide attention; Slow reflexes, impaired judgment and concentration; Impaired vision and coordination; Slurred, mumbled or incoherent speech; A wide variety of emotional effects, such as euphoria, depression, suicidal tendencies; Laughing or crying for no apparent reason.

Stimulants increase the activity of either the sympathetic nervous system, the central nervous system, or both. Some stimulants produce a sense of euphoria, in particular the stimulants which exert influence on the central nervous system. Stimulants are used therapeutically to increase or maintain alertness, to counteract fatigue. Signs of stimulant use include nervousness; hypothermia; compulsive behavior; stroke, heart and blood vessel toxicity; grinding of the teeth; irritability; anxiety; increased blood pressure; paranoia and/or psychosis; aggression; convulsions; dilated pupils; blurred vision; dizziness; sleeplessness; loss of appetite; malnutrition; increased body temperature.

Hallucinogens give the user a perception different from reality. This can be manifested as either an illusion (i.e. “I see God”) or a delusion (i.e. “I am God”). There can also be “synesthesia,” or a transposition of the senses, such as when the phone rings, you see bright colors. Examples of hallucinogens include psilocybin or “mushrooms;” nutmeg; peyote; and LSD.

PCP causes psychosis, giving the user a feeling of being disconnected from one’s body and environment.

PCP has potent effects on the nervous system, altering perceptual functions (hallucinations, delusional ideas, delirium or confused thinking); motor functions (unsteady gait, loss of coordination, and disrupted eye movement or nystagmus), and autonomic nervous system regulation (rapid heart rate, altered temperature regulation). The analgesic properties of the drug can cause users to feel less pain, and persist in violent or injurious acts as a result.

A narcotic is a drug that in moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves pain, and induces profound sleep. It also has an analgesic effect, with a loss of sensation of pain that results from an interruption in the nervous system pathway between sense organ and brain. Examples of narcotics include: Morphine; Codeine; Demerol; Percodan; Oxycodone; OxyContin; Vicodin; Percocet; Heroin; and Krokodil.

Inhalant can include: paint; Liquid Paper; nail polish remover; permanent markers; Reddi-Wip; aerosol air fresheners; Gasoline; rubber cement; PAM cooking spray; nitrous oxide; Helium; propane. For example, PAM cooking spray is designed to put a thin coating of a non-stick substance in the pan. When someone inhales this, it does the same thing to your lungs. After time, your lungs no longer have the ability to exchange oxygen with your blood and you suffocate.

The varieties of Cannabis include: marijuana; hashish; hash oil; and Marinol. Marinol, for example, is an FDA-approved cannabinoid and is prescribed as an appetite stimulant, primarily for AIDS, chemotherapy and gastric bypass patients.

Now, you ask, “What Should I Do?”

An employee comes to work behaving, acting, or exhibiting signs of drug or alcohol consumption. You determine through your interaction and the behaviors of the employee that you have enough “reasonable suspicion” to ask them to take a drug screen. They agree.

First of all, YOU drive them, because you NEVER allow an employee to operate a vehicle if you have reason to believe they are under the influence.

On your way to the facility, they declare, “I’m a drug addict / alcoholic, etc. and I need help.” Through your insurance provider, you know that an Employee Assistance Program is available.

You should continue on to the testing facility and have the employee evaluated.

Why? There is a significant difference between an employee who “gets caught” under the influence at work, versus an employee who willingly comes to you and admits their addiction, asking for your help. Through testing, you will at least have the documentation you need to take action.

Employees will be protected from any lost regular pay for the period of the examination. All test results are the exclusive property of the Company and will be maintained as confidential business records. Any refusal or failure to take the examination or test by an employee will be considered just cause for immediate termination.

If the employee submits to the test, you will not likely get the results immediately unless it is a breath test for alcohol. The next step would be to suspend the employee “pending the results of the drug screen.”

Safety and security issues are a high concern in our industry every day. Significant benefits are available to you by having Stark Service Solutions as your “on demand” Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist, with a proven track record of successfully managing and protecting multi-million dollar assets, while effectively reducing costs and expenses. For more information, visit or contact us for a complimentary needs assessment.