Drugs in the Workplace
(17th Feb 2003)
Authored by Michelle Sarkis
Alcoholism and drug abuse are significant problems in the Australian workplace and both are linked to higher levels of stress among employees. For example Bass et al (1996) found that employees who use drugs have a relatively persistent pattern of absenteeism which is, of course, costly to the organization. In addition, their study also showed that drug use is related to employee tardiness as well as to absenteeism. Thus, the costs of drug use in employee lost time may be even greater than previo
Symptoms of employee drug use (Stone, 1998)
While the issue of testing generates considerable debate, the introduction of workplace policies on drug and alcohol misuse is less contentious, although the extent of such policies is unknown. Tackling the problem is seen to be a joint responsibility of workers and management.
Alcohol and other drugs council of Australia (ADCA)'s drug policy 2000 links the problem to occupational health and safety issues. It states that alcohol and other drug use is not just the cause of workplace accidents and lost productivity, it can also be the outcome of bad job design and poor working environment. That is, that the problem is not just about events outside the workplace.
To develop an effective policy ADCA believes organisations should: (Mace, 2001)
If organisations are to effectively deal with workplace substance abuse, a clear, unequivocal policy statement defining the rights and responsibilities of the employer and employee is essential. It should be developed after a detailed assessment survey and explain why it is being implemented. The policy should also give a clear description of prohibited substance abuse-related behaviours, a thorough explanation of the consequences for policy violations and an outline of all program elements, incl
uding employee assistance. In addition, thorough ongoing training for supervisors and employees is also recommended. Once these actions are in place, an organisation can proactively deal with substance abuse
The information provided on this page does not constitute treatment and in no way replaces direct advice from qualified professionals providing tailored solutions to particular workplaces and individuals.
Bass, A.R., Bharucha-Reid, R., Delaplane-Harris, K., Schork, M.A., Kaufmann, R., McCann, D., Foxman, B., Fraser, W. & Cook, S. (1996). Employee drug use, demographic characteristics, work reaction and absenteeism. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(1), 92-99.
Ferguson, A. (1994). Seconds out! The new way to fight executive stress' Business Review Weekly, 166(3), p.87.
Mace, J. Powerful influences at work. March, 2001, pp20-25.
Stone, R.J (1998). Human Resource Management (3rd Ed). Australia: John Wiley & Sons