Cocaine is the second most commonly used drug in England and Wales among 16-59 year olds according to the Office for National Statistics. Because of this, if substance misuse is causing a suspected issue for your workforce- cocaine could well be a culprit.
To help businesses get to grips with tackling cocaine misuse in the workplace, we have produced this helpful guide which covers:

First, we’ll take a look at what cocaine is and the effects it could have on your workforce.

What is Cocaine?

To give you more information on the drug, we’ve put together answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cocaine.

What Type of Drug is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant class A drug which can be found in three types: coke, crack, and freebase. Coke is a fine white powder; crack is small rocks and freebase is a crystallised powder. Cocaine is often snorted, but can also be smoked through a pipe, rubbed on the gums, or injected.

What is Cocaine Made From?

Cocaine comes from the leaves of the South American coca plant. For centuries, Indigenous people have chewed coca leaves to feel an energetic high.

When was Cocaine Invented?

The cocaine alkaloid was first isolated from the coca plant in 1855 by German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke, who named it erythroxyline. Following this, PhD student Albert Niemann generated a purified version in 1859 which he named cocaine.

Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine increases the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, also known as the ‘happy hormone.’ Therefore, when people take cocaine they can feel extreme happiness, energy, confidence, and alertness. Despite this, there are several negative effects of taking cocaine, including irritability, paranoia, and anxiousness. Physical reactions include increased heartbeat, feeling hot or sick, and decreased appetite.

Signs of Cocaine Use

If you’re trying to tell if someone is on cocaine, some warning signs in the workplace include:

  • Being overconfident, chattier, and more animated than normal.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Loss of appetite which could result in weight loss.
  • White powder around nostrils, sniffing or nosebleeds.
  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Unable to complete work tasks.
  • Frequent accidents at work.
  • Paranoia and aggression.
  • Financial problems.

The issue of drugs in the workplace

The misuse of drugs in the workplace can lead to a plethora of issues for businesses including minor or fatal accidents, arguments between staff members, lowered productivity, or damaged reputation.
Accidents are particularly serious in certain professions such as those working with machinery or power tools, those in control of a vehicle, or individuals responsible for the care of other people e.g., doctors and nurses.
Because of this, it may be beneficial for businesses to test for drug and cocaine use among workers – but how can this be done?

How to test for cocaine

Drug testing methods look for the chemicals that remain after the drug breaks down which are called metabolites. For a cocaine drug test, you can choose between either a simple saliva or urine sample test.
A swab test uses a saliva sample with indicator strips which will show either negative or positive results lines for each drug. Our 10 Panel Oral Fluid Drug Test screens for ten different types of drugs including cocaine, marijuana, and opiates.
A cocaine urine test allows for rapid screening with easy-to-read results on colour-coded strips. Our 13 Panel ECO Size Urine Test screens for 13 drugs where you can confidently assess the integrity of the sample with a built-in specimen validity test.
Depending on the size of your business, you can choose between packs of 25, 50 or singular tests. For larger orders and bulk discounts, you can contact us via email, telephone or contact form to receive a quote.

How long does cocaine stay in urine?

Depending on how much cocaine is taken, on average it will take 3 or 4 days until the drug is not detected in a urine test.

The benefits of workplace drug testing

If you have employees who are abusing drugs, this will undoubtedly cause problems within the business, from a work output perspective as well as a team relationship issue. By having a recognised drug testing policy, employees are aware of their responsibility to test and should all be in agreement to take part through a written contract.
As discussed previously, drug testing could be essential in workplaces of elevated risk, including those working in potentially unsafe environments or are responsible for the safety of others. Research by the CIPD indicates that from employers who have a responsibility for staff in safety-critical roles, 48% do not test employees for drugs or alcohol. This is an alarming statistic, as it suggests that there are many workforces not taking responsibility for ensuring employees are safe to work.
Through having an open discussion with employees about drug testing and implementing testing procedures, it allows individuals the opportunity to open up if they are struggling with an addiction in order to get help and support.

Implementing a cocaine policy in the workplace

The best method of reducing drug use within your workforce is to implement a drugs policy which outlines the expectations of staff members and the repercussions if an employee tests positive for drugs.
Research indicates that the top three reasons why policies on drug and alcohol misuse are implemented in workplaces are for health and safety, employee wellbeing and to prevent inappropriate behaviour. At the same time, only half of these employers have a disciplinary procedure in place for any incidents or issues that arise. This is why it is important for companies to review their current policy or create one so that all employees are treated equally in these circumstances.
Although drug and alcohol policies are relatively common within workforces, it is important to ensure that your policy is comprehensive, robust, and legally sound.  In order to achieve this, ITS offer the service of creating, reviewing or expanding your drug and alcohol policy. Whether you’re looking for a review, improvement or writing, these services are available for companies looking to have a solid policy.

Support for colleagues struggling with cocaine addiction

If your workplace drug testing does indicate that an employee has tested positive for cocaine, then it is important that there are next steps in place. Apart from disciplinary action, it is essential to consider if your employee needs help and support with drug-related problems.
The CIPD found that only 33% of employers provided information regarding support for drug or alcohol-related problems. If you are conducting drug tests within the workplace, it is important to ensure that staff members are receiving the support they need should they be having substance misuse issues.
Overall, the most effective method of targeting cocaine use in the workplace is through conducting drug testing. Through providing a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy, as well as support if positive test results are found, this creates a safe working environment for all.
If your business could be affected by substance misuse and you need support in creating the right policy and acquiring the right products to run an effective testing program, please get in touch with our experts to learn more about how we can support you.