The #1 abused drug in the United States is the class of opiates and synthetic narcotics, opioids. What are these anyway? They’re highly addictive compounds, narcotics, derived from the opium poppy: Morphine and Codeine. Those sound familiar, right? These are prescription painkillers used by physicians routinely, and frequently obtained and distributed/sold illegally. That’s just the US, though. What about overseas? What are other countries addicted to?
Canada, Mexico, Australia. And- surprisingly- Colombia have issues with Marijuana.
Spain, Argentina, and Venezuela are plagued by Cocaine addictions.
Saudi Arabia, Iceland and Japan are doing things very quickly with the help of Speed- an Amphetamine.
Most of Europe is addicted to Opiates, like us.
There are all kinds of interesting data out there that indicate it’s not just the drugs available, but the culture of the region that drives substance abuse.
Defined, culture can be applied to any place, region or time. For instance, in a country, culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, arts, morals, etc. of a society. In a business, it is defined almost exactly the same: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in an organization.
Here in the US, we have a culture of excess- do what makes you feel good. Don’t like your job? Quit! Want a better car? Get a loan! Significant other left you? Have a drink, a smoke, a Xanax! Can’t sleep? Take a pill! Bonfire party? Have a drink! Friend moved? Hard week at work? Light up a joint!
As you can see, this type of thinking has led us into a downward spiral of acceptance and denial. I hear people all the time saying “my husband has a few drinks when he comes home, it’s not that big of a deal” or “my son took a few of my pain meds from my surgery last year because his back hurt” or “I know my co-worker smokes pot in her car in the parking lot, but it’s none of my business”. Can you see the problem?
The legalization of marijuana in many states across the country is sending a very blatant message to our citizens: don’t worry! Marijuana’s not bad, so by default, it must be good! The incessant encouragement to “just have a drink” is normal and expected. Our friends, our neighbors, coworkers, everyone we know is encouraging some type of substance abuse.
Why? If you looked at anyone who offered you a drink, a smoke, a pill and asked them “Why are you encouraging my usage of a potentially harmful and addictive substances?” Chances are they would give you a very confused look. They’ve likely never thought of it that way, and that’s because of our culture.
In the 1700s, a culturally acceptable treatment for many medical ailments was bloodletting. It’s a practice whereby a doctor would attach leeches to a person’s skin or even use a scalpel to make an incision in a vein to let blood out. It’s also what killed our first president, one Mr. George Washington. As we can all attest today, this isn’t the greatest idea. Blood goes in the body, not on the floor or in a basin. Try traveling through time to give that information to a Revolutionary War doctor and you’d likely get a faceful of something vile.
Today, we are experiencing at a culture that accepts substance abuse as a normal facet of everyday life- much the same way as bloodletting was viewed before the advents of modern medicine taught us that was a bad idea. In 200 years, will we find that compounds in marijuana, opium, and cocaine- though naturally occurring- lead to sarcomas, cancers, cell mutilations, birth defects and more? What discovery awaits us regarding common practices in today’s society?
Additionally, what culture do you want in America? What should and should not be acceptable? Can you imagine a situation where Cocaine, Heroin, and other illegal and very detrimental substances were legal and considered “safe” by a large portion of the population? Where is the line drawn? Is it drawn after marijuana? After Cocaine? After removing controls for obtaining narcotics? How much will our American culture accept?
These are big questions that no single person can answer, but one that we, as human beings, must sooner or later address.
“All this information is great,” you say, “but what does this have to do with business?” Ina word: everything. While you may not be able to fix the problems of the world individually, questions and concerns you can address are those involving your business. Specifically, what do you want the culture in your organization to be? Do you have it in writing? Do you detail the company’s culture to new hires or let them figure it out on their own? These are all complex questions that are easy to overlook considering today’s hazy moral and cultural lines.
Before utilizing drug testing as a means to identify users in your organization, consider the culture you have created and ways to improve it. Drug testing is an intelligence test and deterrent for use, not a reason to terminate. If your corporate culture is a strong one without tolerance of mind-altering substances- a safe and healthy workplace- you will experience a more productive workplace with fewer disciplinary issues. Your corporate culture should be the reason for employees to stay sober on the job, not the fear of a drug test.