Pubdate: Wed, 08 Sep 1999
Source: Mercury, The (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 1999
Contact:  93 Macquarie Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000 Australia
Fax: (03) 62 300 711


WASHINGTON (AP) -- About 8 percent of full-time workers -- or 6.3 million
Americans -- admitted in 1997 that they had used illegal drugs in the
preceding month, the government reported today. Workers in restaurants,
bars, construction and transportation were more likely than others to use

Nationwide, seven in 10 drug users were full-time workers in 1997,
according to a report that officials hope will dispel notions that most
drug users are burned out and disconnected from the mainstream.

"The typical drug user is not poor and unemployed," Barry McCaffrey, the
White House drug policy director, said in a statement. "He or she can be a
co-worker, a husband or wife, a parent."

The report, issued every few years by the Department of Health and Human
Services, found 7.7 percent of workers age 18 to 49 had used illegal drugs
in the preceding month, a figure that has been steady since 1992.

HHS officials were using the report's findings to encourage businesses to
establish treatment programs. Increasingly, drug users are working in
medium-sized companies, which have the resources to establish these
programs, they said. Still, 44 percent of drug users were working for small
businesses -- those with fewer than 25 employees, down from 57 percent in
1994 but still the largest category.

"Whether you are corporate CEO or a small-business owner, you need to know
that simple, low-burden, effective steps ... can increase workplace safety
and productivity and lower substance abuse and its human and economic
effects," said a statement by Nelba Chavez, administrator of the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the HHS agency that
produced the report.

The report also found that in 1997:

- --Young adults, men, whites and those with less than a high school
education were more likely to use drugs than other workers.

- --Nineteen percent of food preparation workers, waiters, waitresses and
bartenders used illegal drugs. For construction workers, it was 14 percent;
for transportation and material moving workers, it was 10 percent.

- --Workers who used drugs were more likely to have worked for three or more
employers, to have left a job in the past year and to have skipped a day or
more of work in the past month.

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