Handling an Employee on Barbiturates

These days, it’s hard to find any area of life that hasn’t been touched by drug use. This is also true of the work place. Most employers have a drug test for potential employees. Employers have strict drug policies, some even with random drug testing. So how is it possible for employees to be using barbiturates on the job? An article from the Department of Health and Human Services' 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, stated that 52% of the 18.9 million adults abusing drugs were employed.

Employers need to be aware of the signs of barbiturate use. Barbiturates have effects on a person, such as drowsiness, or in some cases, total sedation. Employers should take notice of a change in an employee’s behavior. Has this employee suddenly started coming in late for work or leaving early? Is a normally productive employee started to act sluggish? Maybe you’ve become aware of an employee who is having family problems or financial issues. These symptoms on their own might not sound an alarm to an employer, however, if several symptoms are presenting in an employee, the employer might want to investigate further.

The employer should gather all resources available to the employee, i.e. rehab facilities or drug counseling groups. A check of the company’s insurance policy is also recommended. An employee will need to know what expenses are covered. If discipline is required, it’s advised for an employer to consult an attorney to ensure all rights of the employer and employee haven’t been violated. Lastly, an employer needs to address the situation as soon as possible, after being made aware of it. The worst possible thing to do would be to ignore the barbiturate abuse. Barbiturate abuse can cost an employee a tremendous amount in lost production or injuries.


N.A. “4 Steps to Deal with an Employee's Substance Abuse Problem.” Entrepreneur (Website). (2013).
  • 3 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I believe I could recognize it. Although there are a lot of drugs I never used, I've at least been around most of them.
  • I do know that some people are still prescribed barbiturates for controlling epilepsy so it would always be wise for anyone who has been prescribed these drugs to let their employer know as soon as possible. This would avoid any misunderstandings surrounding random drug testing. 
  • Good point there from @missbishi about the fact that there is still use of barbiturates to control epilepsy. It could make for a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation if they were legally prescribed to treat a serious medical issue, and there was a confrontation over their presence in a drug test, for instance.
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