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Me and RAND, in agreement at last! - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 6th, 2015

08:28 am - Me and RAND, in agreement at last!

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So the RAND Corporation in 2009 published some interesting findings about the link between drug use and workplace accidents. They didn't find sufficient evidence to support a causal link, but (similar to the link between drugs and crime) found that heavy substance-using behaviours and disregard for safety precautions are likely both symptoms of something else, that they call ‘deviance proneness’, and that identifying those characteristics and establishing intervention strategies (such as Employee Assistance Programs) may be more useful than drug-testing in addressing this issue.

Why is this important to me? Well, whenever I think about full legalisation of drugs as a harm reduction measure, I use my ex-husband as a foil to my arguments. Without giving too much away, he's been in minor trouble (including some jail time) with drugs for most of his adult life. I ask myself "If drugs were legal, how would it have affected his life?" Would he have suffered more harm through easier access, or less through less police attention/connection with the criminal underworld?

It's hard to say. What I do know is that he is the type of person who would very likely have found another way to damage his life, because that's the kind of guy he is - I don't think in this case the end result would have been any different, but the road to get there might have been.

After reading the RAND report, I now wonder if in a parallel universe where identifying this type of characteristic and addressing it happened as a matter of course, people like my ex-husband would do any better. I am also heartened to see an organisation like RAND reaching similar conclusions to those I've reached myself.

[edit] Of course this does open the door for a scary thought - the concept of drug testing as a useful means of removing potential dissenters (oh sorry, the 'deviance prone') from the workforce, with the added ability to blame them for their own misfortune. Which fits frighteningly into the the neoconservative rhetoric that is currently dominating our political discourse, and is likely the conclusion my essay will reach as to why drug testing is a burgeoning industry depsite there being little evidence to justify its use.

Worth reading for those interested:
Ramchand, R., Pomeroy, A., & Arkes, J. (2009) The Effects of Substance Use on Workplace Injuries. Santa Monica: RAND.

Comments:

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From:richaarde
Date:July 6th, 2015 03:35 am (UTC)
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I never thought of that point you made in your edit. Employers can use employee's drug use as evidence that they are a problem. It may take legislation to prevent employers from doing this, and that's going to be a tough sell in government.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2015 03:38 am (UTC)
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It's really a bit of a moot point though, because many workplaces are already on the drug testing bandwagon, and they don't feel the need to justify what they are doing at all - they simply discipline (in the US I understand that often means sacking - here it's a bit different) people and stigmatise them for a positive test, using the usual rhetoric of safety and productivity.

The fact that it's in line with the neoliberal agenda of keeping wages low by creating competition for jobs is not really relevant to most employers - they just go "Drugs Bad! Must Test!" and that's the end of it.
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From:richaarde
Date:July 6th, 2015 04:05 am (UTC)
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Sometimes treatment is offered if the employee is in a good union. Unfortunately, and especially with the way unions have been weakened in the last few decades, most employees that are busted for drug use end up sacked.

That said, many employers have stopped doing drug tests, at least here in the US. Drug testing is expensive, and doesn't provide a very good return on investment. It's easier and makes more sense to terminate people based on their merit.

The law here still dictates that it's legal to terminate people due to drug use, and there are a lot of people with old ideas that still push the old policy. There have been plenty of cases where people using marijuana medicinally, and often legally (by state law, not by federal law), get terminated due to this. This is really unfortunate, as people are being punished for seeking treatment for legitimate medical problems.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2015 04:12 am (UTC)
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This isn't intended facetiously, but if you know where I could find data or studies to back the notion of drug testing reducing in the US? Given that NZ is about 15 years behind the US in this area but following the same pattern of adoption, it'd be dead handy for my essay.
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From:richaarde
Date:July 6th, 2015 04:16 am (UTC)
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I just read an article...

It's bedtime now but I'll look for it tomorrow.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 6th, 2015 04:22 am (UTC)
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Thank you!
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From:c_maxx
Date:July 7th, 2015 04:44 pm (UTC)
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I'm a big believer in Employee Assistance as well.

Re your other point, one sister got herself scared out of the drug business, and went "straight"; took up alcohol as a substitute, and drank and tobacco-smoked herself into the grave.

Though she lived to 70, so 'who's to say?'

Apocraphal anedote: "I asked my doctor if I give up eating rich food, drinking wine, and chasing wild women, will I live to be 100? And she replied, no, but it'll seem like it..."

Agree with your point about separating out the dissenters.
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