The rising cost of workplace substance abuse may seem unfair to most employers, but ignoring the problem will cost you a lot more when it has a negative impact on employee safety, health, productivity, morale, security and well-being.
Move over cocaine, marijuana, beer, methamphetamines and prescription drugs – salvia divinorum, bath salts, DXM and K2/”Spice” are here and available at your local pharmacy, grocery store and on the web!
These synthetic cannabinoids (K2/Spice), ephedrine-type amphetamines (bath salts) and dextromethorphan (DXM, which is a dissociative anesthetic found in over-the-counter cough medicines) are all new and the “abuse high” includes hallucinations.
The absolute newest drug soaring high above the list is Salvia Divinorum which includes the sensation of hallucinations, similar to the effects of smoking marijuana. After one uses this herb (sage family) the effect is almost instant and can last up to 30 minutes which then prompts the user to smoke more to achieve the same or better “high.”
During a recent undercover workplace investigation located in Southern California, an undercover investigator, while working in a distribution warehouse for a large company, walked out to the employee parking lot and observed several employees smoking what was later identified as “Salvia “ out of a pipe.
The employees involved in this activity returned from their dinner break and resumed their assigned work duties which consisted of operating a forklift, staging millions of dollars of product for shipment and loading pallets on trailers.
One of the effects that have led to concern over this drug is that it produces a highly modified perception of reality and to the person itself; additionally it decreases the person’s ability to interact or react to their surroundings.
Driving or operating workplace machinery, vehicles and forklifts in this condition could possibly lead to employees injuring themselves or causing bodily harm or death to co-workers, not to mention the damage to goods.
Imagine a co-worker who smoked Salvia on their lunch break; depending on the person and the amount used (as with any controlled substance, prescription medication or alcohol) they lose a sense of their alertness and awareness of their surroundings; they could easily endanger their fellow employees and themselves.
Currently Salvia is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act; however, several States and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use and have it listed as illegal to use and possess. Only time will tell whether Salvia will be added to the DEA controlled substance list after their testing period is complete; but in the meantime, list it as unacceptable in your company substance abuse policy for maintaining a “drug free workplace.”
Be vigilant of this drug because it’s undoubtedly going to surface its ugly presence in your workplace. Taking a proactive approach and conducting a thorough workplace evaluation to eradicate substance abuse in the workplace is oftentimes the best and only sure way to keep your workplace healthy and secure.