Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace, and the drug and alcohol programs instituted in the workplace are one of many strategies instituted to fulfil that duty. Employees also have a duty to exercise reasonable caution to protect their own health and safety and that of co-workers. What is missing in this description is the impact substance use and abuse in the workplace has on families and communities. Workplaces have a direct impact on the health of society in general by influencing the physical, mental, social, and economic well-being of employees.In turn, the health of families and communities is affected when employees are not working. That means drug and alcohol programs in the workplace, which promote healthy living, have the ability to bring a multitude of benefits across Australia.
There are all types of people in the workplace, including substance abusers, infrequent substance users, and abstainers. When the employer holds a health workshop to communicate drug and alcohol policies, the audience may include people covering the entire spectrum from abstainers to the addicted. For this reason, there is growing focus on the workplace as an ideal point of intervention. When employees hear the zero tolerance message, and have the opportunity to learn about the ways drugs and alcohol impact health, productivity, and relationships, many will apply the information in their personal lives and not just in the workplace.
Something for Everyone
People getting high at work are not likely to suddenly abstain from using substances at home or in social settings. Approximately 90 percent of employed Australians consume alcohol.1 However, there are also employees who do not use drugs or alcohol but live or associate with family and friends who do. A third category consists of people who want to learn as much as possible about the physical and mental problems associated with substance abuse so they can better serve as role models in the home, especially where children are involved, or in their communities. In each case, information sessions on substance abuse may have a positive impact that extends far beyond the workplace boundaries.
Imagine a workshop that all employees must attend. Some people will continue using drugs and alcohol even after attending training, emphasising the importance of random and for-cause testing to identify who they are. It is always hoped that people needing help will recognise that it is available through an EAP or some other referral system. Anyone who is a casual substance user can learn how infrequent substance use can easily lead to eventual long-term addiction and will hopefully stop illicit drug use. People who abstain from drugs and attend workplace information sessions will find reinforcement of good decision-making.
In each case, there is a chance for something very good to come out of the worker training. The harm caused by drugs and alcohol concerns the entire community. Each person who decides to seek treatment for substance abuse gets personal benefits, of course. But everyone in that person’s life benefits also, including family members and the community. Drugs and alcohol abuse increase social costs associated with crime and health care. Substance abuse increases the number of motor vehicle injuries, incidences of domestic violence, and cases of diseases like mental illness and cardiovascular disease. When people decide to quit using drugs or alcohol to avoid problems at work, it means they are generally more aware of the harms associated with drug use, addiction, binge drinking, and alcoholism and are much more likely to become advocates for healthy living. Advocacy can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. For example, it may be following a healthy lifestyle at home or refusing to binge drink at holiday parties.
A Whole Life
Behaviour at work often reflects behaviour at home and in the community. Employers should not take a narrow view of drug and alcohol programs because they have enormous influence on workers. The messages delivered concerning drug and alcohol harm minimisation or prevention reach into the community as workers interact with their social networks.2 The D&A policy and testing programs should be consistently communicated and enforced within a broader context to increase awareness that making good decisions is not just about the work or co-workers. It is about living a safe and healthy life in and out of the workplace.
There is agreement that the growing number of Australians using drugs or alcohol or both is a trend that must be reversed. Mediscreen (mediscreen.net.au) can help businesses in their efforts to develop healthy workplaces and to be a good influences in worker lives by delivering reliable and accurate drug screening tests.
This article has been taken from : http://www.mediscreen.net.au/workplace-messages-on-substance-abuse-influences-community/