Psychological Correlates of Illicit Drug Use among Job Applicants
JOHN W. JONES, DENNIS S. JOY, AND WILLIAM TERRIS
Recent survey research (e.g., NIDA, 1989) indicates that 32 percent of the 18- to 25-year-old adult population used illicit drugs in the past year and 18 percent used a drug in the past month. Many of these young adults are preparing to enter the work force if they are not already employed. Among a group of 20- to 40- year-old employees, 22 percent have used an illicit drug in the past year, and 12 percent have used an illicit drug in the past month. Drug-abusing employees seem to prefer marijuana and cocaine ( Newcomb, 1988). Although the exact prevalence rate of on-the-job drug use is unknown ( Crown & Rosse, 1988), the existence of employee drug use during paid work hours is undisputed ( Backer, 1987).
The cost of employee illicit drug use to American industries exceeds $8 billion a year ( Levy, 1972). Harris ( 1976) estimated losses in excess of $40 billion a year because of drug-abusing and problem-drinking employees. Both alcohol and drug abuse at work are related to industrial accidents, absenteeism, theft, and other forms of employee counterproductivity ( Harwood, Napolitano, Kristiansen & Collins, 1984). Hence, a need exists to screen out job applicants who are at highest risk to abuse illicit drugs in the workplace while selecting in applicants at lowest risk to use illicit drugs (cf. Normand, Salyards & Mahoney, 1990). The purpose of the study reported in this chapter was to determine if psychological tests used for personnel selection can successfully predict a wide range of drug abuse criteria.