What Does the Billy Mays Cocaine Shocker Tell Us?

Today, the autopsy results from the untimely death of Billy Mays came out.  Most of us were shocked by what we heard — there was cocaine in the pitchman’s system.

What does the Billy Mays cocaine usage tell us?  Well, if you’re an employer, it can tell you a great deal:

  1. You can’t determine who is and isn’t using drugs.  Billy Mays seemed to be perfectly normal (if a bit high-spirited at times.) 
  2. Drug users can be good performers… for a time.  This is a reason many businesses avoid conducting drug screening.  They think they’ll lose productivity if they find out their top salesperson has an addiction.  In the end, this kind of decision is doomed to backfire.
  3. Illegal drug users can hide their addictions.  Don’t think that you’ll be able to “spot” the cocaine user in the crowd.  They don’t all lurk in back alleys.  In fact, they may sit in the corner office.
  4. Drug use can be fatal.  Sure, every employer knows this, but most don’t think about how the death of an employee can affect workplace morale for weeks, if not months.  Not only does the company lose productivity, but it also loses the sense of togetherness it worked so hard to achieve.
  5. If you know about drug use, you may be the catalyst to stop it.  If someone had called Billy Mays on his cocaine use, would he have sought treatment?  Maybe… and maybe not.  But wouldn’t it have been worth it?

With every tragedy comes lessons; the Billy Mays incident is no different.  And for employers, it seems that those lessons all lead to the need to make sure illegal drug use isn’t taking place among those in their employ… even if those individuals are (temporarily) bringing in big bucks.

Kristina Taylor
In 1989, Kristina began her career as a customer service representative at the newly formed American Tenant Screen, Inc. Ten years later, she pioneered tenant background screening on the Internet. As a long-standing member of the National Multifamily Resident Information Council (formerly the National Association of Screening Agencies) Kristina gains insight into the trends of the tenant screening industry to better understand the current and future needs of their clients.

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