Employee Drug & Alcohol Use Rising During COVID-19

In a study conducted by The Recovery Village® , 63% of employed participants said they’d increased their substance use during COVID-19. This statistic supports expert predictions that substance abuse will rise throughout the pandemic, in addition to rates of addiction afterward due to stress, isolation, boredom and decreased access to recovery resources. With substance abuse increasing and quarantine continuing, it’s important for employers to be aware of what’s happening, the impact it has on workplace safety, and what they can do to maintain a drug-free, safe workforce.Man holding a glass of alcohol and pills

Survey Findings

In this nationwide survey, The Recovery Village® asked 1,000 Americans, ages 18 and older, about their drug and alcohol use in the last month. The statistics below reflect the responses of employed participants.

Most Common Reasons for Increased Substance Use

  • Stress – 58%
  • Anxiety/Depression – 32%
  • Boredom – 40%

Most Commonly Abused Substances

  • Alcohol – 90%
  • Marijuana – 38%
  • Opioids – 16%
  • Benzodiazepines – 12%
  • Cocaine – 11%
  • Methamphetamine – 6%
  • Heroin/Fentanyl – 4%
  • Other – 2%

Usage Trends in the Past Month

  • Drug Use Increase – 37%
  • Alcohol Use Increase – 61%

Statistics on substance abuse during COVID-19 provided by The Recovery Village®.

 

Recommendations for Employers

Although many companies still have employees working from home, a study conducted by alcohol.org revealed a surprising percentage of employees are drinking while on the clock. According to the survey, 41% of Oklahoma respondents, 22% of Texas respondents and 38% of North Dakota respondents admitted to drinking alcohol at home during working hours (click here for more state-specific statistics).

With general substance abuse and on-the-job substance use increasing, it’s important that employers take the necessary steps to foster and maintain a drug & alcohol free workplace.

Maintain Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs

While coordinating drug and alcohol testing during COVID can seem stressful, as statistics show, continuing testing is extremely important during this time. Third-party administrators, like TEAM, are identifying innovative ways to support employers while minimizing potential employee exposure during this time, including

  • locating non-medical clinics for employees and candidates to complete drug & alcohol testing
  • leveraging our nationwide clinic network to setup testing sites for employers that are closer to their employees’ homes
  • working with local collection sites to coordinate on-site testing at employer facilities and worksites
  • offering collector training courses to clients, so they can train company representatives to conduct testing rather than sending employees to collection sites

In addition to the rise of substance abuse and the impact this increase will have on safety, workplace accidents, and employee wellbeing, it’s also important to be aware that the Department of Transportation has not suspended drug testing requirements.

If your company needs any assistance maintaining drug and alcohol testing during COVID-19, please contact TEAM today.

Ensure Supervisors have had Reasonable Suspicion Training

It’s also imperative that supervisors have up-to-date reasonable suspicion training to recognize and properly manage reasonable suspicion situations. Reasonable suspicion training teaches supervisors the critical roles and responsibilities of these sensitive situations, such as

  • how to Initiate the testing process
  • best practices for documenting observations
  • balancing employee rights while also reducing liability

If you’re interested in setting up reasonable suspicion training for your supervisors, learn more on our website or sign-up today.


As employers navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that workplace and employee safety remain a top priority. For assistance in creating or maintaining an effective drug & alcohol program, contact TEAM today.

TEAM Professional Services is a nationwide workplace safety and compliance service provider offering drug & alcohol program management, background screening, training and consultation services. With over 25 years of experience in employment eligibility, TEAM is uniquely positioned to provide the highest level of expertise to clients with the overall mission of creating and maintaining safe workplaces.

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