May 23, 2023

The Federal Department of Labor is taking a proactive step towards promoting more inclusive workplaces with one of its latest initiatives, Recovery-Ready Workplace. The program encourages employers to adopt HR policies and practices that expand opportunities for individuals struggling with substance use disorders or those actively in recovery and treatment. The hope is that this initiative will positively impact the lives of millions and improve their chances of gaining employment and staying productive in their careers.

This article will examine the challenges of creating a recovery-ready workplace, the policies and tools needed to help employers achieve this goal, the potential pitfalls of pursuing the status quo, and more.

Challenges of Creating a Recovery-Ready Workplace

Creating a "recovery-ready" workplace is undoubtedly a noble initiative. Yet, with the labor market historically tight, now, more than ever, employers should seek to create a more inclusive workplace. However, there are several challenges to successfully implementing a recovery-ready environment beyond finding suitable individuals to fill job vacancies

The Stigma of Substance Use and Abuse

Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals in recovery, as they may be perceived as unreliable or a potential risk to the workplace. This stigma can prevent employers from creating policies and practices supporting recovery and discouraging discrimination.

Lack of Understanding or Training

Many employers may not know how to support employees in recovery or how to identify and address substance use disorders in the workplace. This lack of knowledge can result in a lack of support and resources for those in recovery, leading to a higher risk of relapse and decreased productivity.

Cost of Implementation

Implementing policies and practices that support recovery, such as offering flexible work schedules or providing access to counseling and treatment, can require investing time and resources. Employers may hesitate to make this investment, especially if they perceive a lack of return on investment.

The Rise of Substance Use

The current state of substance use in the United States and abroad is reaching epidemic proportions. For example, the opioid crisis has devastated individuals, families, and communities, with SUDs (substance use disorders) now affecting people from all walks of life.

With such a large percentage of the population struggling with substance use, many employers may not know how to identify and address the issue in the workplace.

The Challenges of Traditional Drug Screening Policies

Traditional drug screening policies often rely on testing for only specific drugs, not accounting for casual substance use or the use of substances not included in the testing protocol. Unfortunately, this can result in false negatives, where individuals struggling with substance use are not identified and therefore do not receive the support they need.

Additionally, traditional drug screening policies can be problematic when identifying employees dealing with job site impairment. While drug screening can detect the presence of substances in an individual's system, it cannot determine if the individual is currently impaired or how their substance use may be affecting their job performance. This blindspot can create a situation where employees struggling with substance use disorders don't get the attention they need until they have experienced negative consequences in the workplace.

Traditional drug screening policies can perpetuate the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

Moreover, traditional drug screening policies can perpetuate the stigma associated with substance use disorders. By singling out individuals for drug testing, these policies can create a culture of mistrust and suspicion that can deter employees from seeking help or disclosing their struggles with substance use.

To overcome the limitations of traditional drug screening policies, employers can consider implementing policies and practices that prioritize support and resources for those in recovery, such as providing access to counseling and treatment, offering flexible work schedules, and creating a supportive workplace culture that encourages openness and honesty. By doing so, employers can foster an environment that supports the health and well-being of all employees.

Why Traditional Drug Testing Methods Fail the Recovery-Ready Workplace Initiative

With so much to consider, reliance on routine drug testing methods may seem like the path of least resistance. However, this approach could be detrimental as traditional testing methods provide limited insight into employees' drug use or their recovery journey.

For example, traditional testing methods such as urine analysis, which only provide a snapshot of drug use at a specific moment, will flag someone who tests positive for drugs in their system. However, these methods may not fully account for the individual's progress in overcoming an existing SUD or their commitment to eventually achieving a drug-free lifestyle.

The Recovery-Ready Workplace Initiative aims to create supportive environments for individuals in recovery, focusing on their overall well-being rather than solely relying on drug test results. By shifting the focus to recovery support, education, and providing resources for ongoing sobriety, the initiative promotes a more inclusive and understanding approach to workplace drug policies.

When equipped with comprehensive drug-testing tools and the right policies and practices, employers can identify employees struggling with substance use disorders and ensure they receive the support and resources they need to manage their condition and return to a healthy and productive life.

The PharmChek® Sweat Patch is Uniquely Suited for a Recovery-Ready Workplace

Our nation's criminal justice system has trusted the PharmChek® Sweat Patch as a reliable and effective drug testing tool for over three decades. Today, PharmChek® is poised to help employers and HR managers everywhere create the recovery-ready workplaces of tomorrow.

But many drug testing options are available, so what makes the Sweat Patch unique?

Ideal for Follow-Up or Return-to-Duty Confirmation

The PharmChek® Sweat Patch provides a multi-day, 24/7 testing window that accurately represents drug consumption.

Unlike traditional drug tests that rely on a single urine or blood sample, the Sweat Patch is worn on the skin and collects sweat for up to 7 to 10 days with a single application. This long detection period provides a more accurate representation of an individual's drug consumption over time.

Why is that important? Such an extended window allows the detection of drug use even when an individual is not actively under the influence. This benefits individuals struggling with SUDs, as it can help identify drug use patterns and provide more comprehensive support and resources for recovery.

One of the potentially telling statistics is the increase in both the number of Return-to-Duty (RTD) tests conducted and the number of FTA-covered employers performing this type of test. This data indicates a trend toward a 'second-chance' policy versus a 'zero tolerance'/termination policy following a DOT drug violation.

July 2022 FTA Drug and Alcohol Regulation Updates

The comprehensive testing provided by PharmChek®'s continuous testing, with its objective data and ability to reduce an employer's liability, make it the ideal drug testing tool for follow-up or return-to-duty confirmation of an employee's sobriety.

Industry & Safety Compliance

Some industries, such as transportation, construction, and healthcare, are required by law to conduct drug testing for safety and compliance reasons. The PharmChek® Sweat Patch can help employers to comply with these regulations while providing a more comprehensive testing option that supports employees in recovery.

Non-invasive Collection

The Sweat Patch is far less invasive than traditional urine drug tests. It can be worn discreetly under clothing, reducing the stigma associated with drug testing and making it more comfortable for employees to undergo testing.

A Proven Recovery Tool

In workplace recovery programs, the Sweat Patch can be used to support employees who are in recovery and may require ongoing monitoring to ensure their sobriety. Providing this option fosters a workplace culture that prioritizes the health and well-being of all employees.

Quick Application & Removal

Not only does the Sweat Patch require fewer appointments than traditional drug tests, which translates to greater drug testing compliance, but application and removal take less than 10 minutes. Overall, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch is one of the most convenient drug testing tools on the market.

Create A Recovery-Ready Workplace With the PharmChek® Sweat Patch

The PharmChek® Sweat Patch is a highly effective tool for monitoring drug use in the workplace and promoting a recovery-ready environment. Its non-invasive and tamper-resistant design makes it a smart option for employers who want to ensure a safe and drug-free workplace. And with its ability to detect a wide range of drugs and provide accurate and reliable results, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch is a worthwhile investment for any company that values the health and well-being of its employees.

By implementing this technology, employers can create a culture of trust, accountability, and support that promotes employee wellness and recovery while safeguarding their business from the risks of drug use in the workplace.

Choose the PharmChek® Sweat Patch for a recovery-ready workplace that prioritizes the health and safety of all employees. For more information about this initiative, including resources, guidelines, and practices for implementation, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website .