At Subaru of Indiana Automotive, associates are not disciplined or terminated if they fail their first random drug test, according to Craig Koven, communications and external relations manager at the plant. Instead, they are placed in a rehabilitation program.
Random drug testing in Subaru's lone U.S. plant has risen alongside an expansion of its work force, Koven said. In the last several years, the Lafayette, Ind., plant has expanded repeatedly to match soaring demand for its vehicles and now employs 5,700 people making nearly 400,000 vehicles a year.
"More associates has resulted in more random drug testing," Koven said. "This is because we take pride in our people, their safety and our quality. In particular, we take pride in our [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] incident rate over the past 20 years, which has annually been the lowest in the automotive manufacturing" area.
Subaru's employee assistance program offers treatment services for drug dependence. In response to the opioid epidemic, Koven said, the plant has put a greater emphasis on education about mental health and substance abuse.
"We attempt to reduce the stigma associated with those issues as character flaws," Koven said. "Instead, we want our associates to let us know if they notice a colleague who appears to be having issues and may need assistance."
For those entering inpatient treatment facilities, short- and long-term disability programs provide income replacement. The plant also has a health and wellness center on-site that follows state guidelines for how opioids should be prescribed to reduce dependency. For example, such prescriptions cannot exceed seven days, in accordance with a 2017 law.
"As it specifically relates to opioids, we regularly review aggregate medical and prescription plan data indicators to identify potential abuse," Koven said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the drug overdose death rate increased more than 22 percent in Indiana from 2016 to 2017. But some headway has been made in the state's efforts to combat drug use disorders, with the latest progress report by the American Medical Association Opioid Task Force showing that opioid prescriptions had decreased 35 percent from five years earlier.
Jack Walsworth contributed to this report.