Substance Abuse in the Workplace
HCA250- Psychology in the Workplace
August 25, 2013
Substance abuse is the overindulgence in chemical and/or drugs that affect an individual’s physical and mental well-being. There are many factors that influence if someone engages in smoking, drinking alcohol, or use drugs. Many of that is based on personal relationships, society, and sometimes the need to feel like a person is part of the “in crowd”. It not only affects the person that is doing the drugs but also the family and friends of the loved ones. Substance abuse is a disorder that is characterized by a pattern of continued use of medications or ...view middle of the document...
Alcohol and other drug related harm in workplaces can manifest in terms of physical harms (e.g. fatalities and injuries) and productivity related harms (e.g. poor performance,
workforce reduction). In terms of physical harms, alcohol has been found to be a
contributing factor in an estimated 4% of work-related fatalities (National Occupational
Health & Safety Commission 1998) and between 3-11% of workplace injuries (National
health & Medical Research Council 1997). Other drugs are estimated to contribute to 2% of
work-related fatalities [no reliable data exists examining the relationship between other
drugs and workplace injuries]. In total, it is estimated that alcohol and other drugs are
contributing factors in at least 5% of work-related fatalities. (National Occupational Health
and Safety Commission 1998).
In 1998-99 alcohol and other drug use resulted in productivity related costs exceeding $2.9 billion in Australia (Collins & Lapsley 2002). These costs were borne through a reduction in the available workforce (due to illness or premature death) and absenteeism. In addition to
these costs, in 1992-93 it was found that drug-related workplace accidents resulted in costs
of over $1.5 billion, of which the cost to employers was estimated to be 650 million dollars
(Phillips 2001). Alcohol and other drugs can affect workplace productivity in a number of
ways including; increased absenteeism, lateness, staff turnover, accidents, increased workers
compensation premiums and reduced performance (Phillips 2001).
The prevalence of alcohol and other drug use or impairment at work is difficult to gauge
due to the nature of these activities. The 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey
reports that approximately 4.4% of all Australians went to work affected by alcohol, whilst
2% of Australians went to work affected by illicit drugs. In addition, over 6% of participants
reported that the workplace was their usual place of consumption of alcohol (Australian
Institute of Health & Welfare 2005).
One of the most important factors to explore when examining the issue of alcohol and other drug related harm in workplaces is the...