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Legalization of Illicit Drugs: A Position In Opposition

The Workplace Perspective

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Mr. Chairman, fellow panelists, and those assembled,

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thank you for inviting me to testify today on this important issue I shall address the question of illicit drug legalization from the arena in which I see a very serious aspect of the problem the workplace. I shall provide a few specific case examples

of the impact of employee drug addiction, give you facts about

drug abuse in the workplace and why legalization is not a good

answer, and I will then submit my recommendations for solution to

the Committee for consideration.

However, before presenting my testimony I would like to take a few moments to give you my background so that you will under

stand my position in this testimony. It is important to make

clear that I am speaking as an individual and not as a representative of the University of Maryland or of any company for which I consult. As a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work I direct the Employee Assistance Program

(EAP) specialization which concentrates upon employees' personal

problems and their impact on job performance. From 1979 to 1984,

I developed and directed the model federal employee assistance

program for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

(USDHHS) within the office of the Secretary. I am also a consultant specializing in the design and evaluation of employee assistance programs for a variety of public agencies, national corporations as well as small businesses. My clients include large

Fortune 500 companies as well as federal agencies such as the


Internal Revenue Service. My latest book, published in 1987,

Drug Free Workplace develops a model for creating a drug-free

(1) workplace.

In my unique position as an EAP evaluator, I have reviewed

as part of a team of national experts in psychology and psychiatry thousands of EAP case records which dramatically reflect the destructive effects of drug abuse upon individual lives and industry. They include life-threatening conditions, child-abuse, family discord, violence and health problems that are directly

attributable to drug use. The following cases typically represent

employees with addiction problems in the American workplace

throughout each of the states in our country. They are real life

examples taken from my consulting work. Legalization will cause

more of the same, resulting in an impossible situation for

American business.


Case #1

A public transportation driver, referred by management because of an accumulation of bad driving points. The

employee admitted to illicit drug use, illicit drug

distribution and gambling. There were additional pro

blems of weight control, family conflict and employee's
own awareness of an inability to function on the job.
(The EAP provided drug and psychiatric evaluation and

treatment. )

Case #2

A subway maintenance worker, self-referred and seeking

help for alcohol and cocaine problems which culminated in the break-up of his 15 year marriage. This person called an EAP counselor after he had started drinking

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he stated that he did not want to live and wanted to

kill his supervisor.]

(EAP provided immediate treatment and notification of

the supervisor of the potential danger. ]
An air traffic controller, self-referred because he had

Case #3

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been arrested for a felony and public intoxication charge. There had been continuous problems with the law

and personal finances. The employee's roommate was a
cocaine user which resulted in violent arguments. He
was planning to move out.]
FEAR referred the employee to in patient treatment for


Case #4

data processor who was referred by her supervisor for

poor job performance revealed during counseling that

she has to care for her grandchildren because her daughter has become a cocaine addict. The daughter goes on "rampages" threatening to kill her and the children.

:] The stress of the situation and responsibilities had made it impossible for her to concentrate on job


(EAP counseled employee and assisted her in obtain

ing treatment for her daughter as well as child

care for the grandchildren. ]

Case #5

Female employee with a security clearance who lived

with her alcoholic father came in for counseling. She

described her father as "violent

(he had) shot (his)

wife." Although there is no further explanation in the

case of what happened to the mother, the employee re

vealed during counseling that the father is "doing to

the daughter what he did to the mother except (he)

doesn't hit her."

[The company's EAP was requested to give special atten

tion to this employee and her problems. ]


In previous testimony before this Committee in September,

1984, I stated that I had seen a dramatic increase in drug pro

programs in industry. As evidenced by the described cases,


there is a greater need for even more programs.
It is critical to recognize that:

a majority of drug abusers (of both legal and
illicit drugs) are in the workplace
19-25 year olds are the most frequent users
of cocaine, with 25-35 year olds being the second
most frequent user group (according to NIDA's re-
cent Household Survey)

the workplace bears the effects as well as the cost of illicit and legal drug abuse by paying escalating health insurance bills

alcohol (a legal drug) is still the primary drug of abuse in the workplace

prescription drugs (also legal) are the second largest group of drugs abused by the American worker

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