Alcohol and other drugs

Alcohol is the most widely used legal drug in Australia and we are among the heaviest drinkers in the world. In Queensland, 1 in 5 adults risk their health by drinking too much alcohol throughout their lifetime.

Two main drinking patterns pose risks to your health—consuming too much alcohol in one session (binge drinking) and regular, long-term drinking. Health risks associated with both these drinking patterns include alcoholism, road trauma, assault, cancer, stroke and premature death.

When it comes to illegal drugs in Queensland, the most commonly used are cannabis, ecstasy, painkillers (for non-medical purposes) and meth amphetamines (such as speed and ice). Harmful consequences include addiction, injury, overdose and death.

Using alcohol and drugs in the workplace can affect work performance, relationships and creates a risk for individuals as well as other employees’ health and safety. For example, using alcohol and drugs can affect a person’s ability to manage machinery, drive a vehicle and make decisions. This makes the workplace an important setting to address alcohol and drug use while providing a safe and supportive environment. With only a small investment, employers can improve employees’ health, safety, productivity and reduce absenteeism.

Ideas for action: encouraging workers to address alcohol and drug use

Encourage employees to seek help

  • Promote the Alcohol and Drug Information Service phone 1800 177 833.
  • Promote Counselling Online phone 1800 888 236.
  • Provide information on confidential counselling through workplace employee assistance programs.
  • Promote 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) a 24/7 phone service for health advice and information about health services.
  • Encourage employees to discuss issues with their general practitioner.

Develop an alcohol and other drugs workplace policy

An alcohol and other drugs workplace policy helps address workplace culture, practices and behaviours that contribute to alcohol and other drug problems.

At work events, consider:

  • promoting responsible drinking
  • offering low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks
  • serving nutritious food
  • providing safe transport options.

Alcohol and drug testing

Alcohol and drug testing is a strategy used by some workplaces. However, it raises several practical, legal and ethical issues. You can address these by making testing part of a workplace health and safety program. Include appropriate safeguards, policies, procedures, education and counselling.

For more information see Australia’s National Research Centre on Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Development.



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