Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry is divided into two main categories: food and accommodation. While attracting and maintaining clients is a major factor in the success of any company, it is especially true in the hospitality sector. Between word of mouth, online reviews, and news/magazine articles, good and bad press can either make or break a company in the hospitality industry.

Unfortunately, those companies in the hospitality industry (including hotels, motels, and restaurants) reported some of the highest percentage of drug and alcohol abuse of any industry as surveyed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Substance Abuse Statistics for Food and Accommodation Industries

Regarding the survey taken by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

Employees in the hotel/motel sector:

  • 10% admitted to heavy or constant alcohol use
  • 9.3% admitted to using some type of illicit drug within the last month
  • 17% admitted to using some type of illicit drug within the past year

Employees in the food & beverage sector:

  • 15.4% admitted to heavy or constant alcohol abuse
  • 16.3% admitted to using some type of illicit drug within the last month
  • And roughly 28% admitted to using an illicit drug within the past year

Now let’s look at these levels of substance abuse by occupation:

Occupation Current Illicit Drug Use (%) Past Year Illicit Drug Use (%) Current Heavy Alcohol Use (%)
Food Preparers  16.3 27.6 16.3
Grounds Keepers 11.4 21 9.8
Janitors 13 20.6 10.3
Maids 7.9 12.8 3.6
Waiters/Waitresses 15.4 28.9 12.1 

Businesses of all sizes are starting to implement drug-free policies to ensure a productive and safe work environment, and the hospitality industry is no different.

By establishing a drug testing program, hospitality companies are:

  • Strengthening their profitability
  • Increasing the safety of their employees
  • Reducing liability
  • Increasing the satisfaction of their guests
  • Confirming America’s reputation as one of the world’s most hospitable destinations for international travelers

What Type of Substance Abuse Testing Should Hospitality Companies Perform?

For food and accommodation institutions, most agencies still primarily use urine drug tests. This is due to the fact that these cups as they are cost effective, difficult to manipulate, and can can test for a variety of substances.

Some companies opt for multi-panel drug tests that test for a high number of drugs, sometimes using a 12 panel drug test cup or higher. This is usually done by companies in high risk areas to weed out people who abuse lesser known drugs. However in hospitality, sometimes all an employer wants to test for is the SAMHSA 5 (THC, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates, and PCP). You can learn more about these drugs here.

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