Small businesses fight to avoid consequences of drug epidemic

Small businesses fight to avoid consequences of drug epidemic

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Employees who use drugs cost employers big time when it comes to productivity loss. Our economy desperately needs workers, but more and more people in our country are jobless because they're failing drug tests. That's according to a new report by The New York Times.

Here in the Tennessee Valley, small business owners are doing their best to protect their livelihood from America's drug epidemic. That includes the owner of Galen's Restaurant in Huntsville.

"We've got a lot of money and investment here," said Steve Turner. "We don't want to lose it because someone's on drugs. That gets around and kind of hurts your reputation."

Turner tries to catch drug use and lost productivity on the front end of hiring. He said he does his best to hire smart. Upon being hired at Galen's Restaurant, his employees have to consent to taking a drug test if management finds it necessary at some point. Managers have to pass a drug test to be hired.

"People who use even recreational drugs tend to be tardy, absent, they don't feel good the next day. Things like that. You don't want that," Turner said.

A study shows prescription opioid abuse cost the economy $78.5 billion in 2013. That includes increased health care and substance abuse treatment costs, criminal justice costs and other factors.

What isn't included in that number, though, is productivity lost at small, American businesses such as Galen's Restaurant.

"Nobody understands how much it takes, and how many hours it takes, or how many dollars it takes," Turner said. "We've got some great employees. We don't want a few bad apples to mess it up for everybody."

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