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Employees can’t pass pre-employment drug tests, some are pre-testing themselves to be sure..

The directors of The Employment Source and the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce say they are concerned about a growing trend: Individuals unable to enter the job market because they can’t pass initial drug screenings.

“It’s a real frustration for local companies because of the large number of applicants that fail a drug screening,” said Scott Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce.

Local companies have brought the issue to his attention, Robinson said.

Now, The Employment Source and the chamber, along with other organizations, are working together to conduct a survey to identify work force needs in the county. Robinson said they hope to learn exactly how much drugs and alcohol are interfering with the county work force.

Liz Carter runs Elizabeth Carter Consulting, based in New Concord. She specializes in training in the oil and gas industry. A former human resources coordinator for a large oil and gas company, Carter said there is a problem.

“Based on my personal experience, I would say that at least one out of 15 potential employees would test positive for pre-employment drug testing. However, most employees are aware that they will have to test for a job, so they clean up before they apply,” she said.

Drug testing, she said, was a requirement and employees were subject to random drug tests, noting that a higher percentage of new hires would test positive in their second round of drug screens.

Employees most commonly test positive for marijuana and prescription medications, Carter said. If they are found to have prescription drugs in their system, a medical review officer gives the employees a chance to prove their medication has been prescribed by a doctor. If they can’t prove it, they are fired.

“This is getting to be a big problem, I believe, not only in this industry, but all industries,” she said.

While David Schaffer can’t speak specifically about the work force, he can identify issues in the community. Schaffer is executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.

Schaffer said 764 Tuscarawas County residents were admitted for alcohol and other drug abuse to local treatment agencies in the past eight months. The top three diagnoses were alcohol dependence, marijuana abuse and opioid dependence (heroin and prescription narcotics). The majority of users were found to be between 18 and 50 years old.

Schaffer couldn’t say how many of these individuals were employed or looking for jobs.

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