A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta estimates that the number of working-age Americans with substance use disorders has risen by 23% since pre-pandemic.
That´s 27 million Americans, and it´s caused a 9% to 26% drop in labor force participation.
About 20% of U.S. workers admitted to using recreational drugs while working remotely and also to being under the influence during virtual meetings. Digital recovery clinic Quit Genius found in August 2022 that one in five believe that substance use has affected their work performance.
Addiction specialists say that their treatment programs were over-enrolled in the pandemic, now fueled by extended remote or hybrid arrangements. The benefits of remote work can be dangerous for addicts: steady paychecks, proximity to drugs and alcohol, and incentive to maintain day-to-day functionality.
The result? Undetected drug habits flourished and are only now coming to light as more companies require workers to return to the office.
Either way, employers seem to know something is up. Random workplace drug testing rose 37% from 2021 to 2022, according to a survey by First Advantage.
“With people working remotely, there might be a more mixed pattern. We see it in particular where there are fewer safeguards built in, such as in the fields of technology, finance and law.” Daniel Angres, medical director at Chicago’s Positive Sobriety Institute.