DRUG-FREE WORKPLACES - STRUCTURED ROUTINE COMBATS ADDICTION

Monday, January 20, 2020

Having a structured routine is necessary for people recovering from a drug addiction, and most importantly it hugely reduces the possibility of a relapse. The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) believes a structured routine, such as paid employment or voluntary work in the community, is an integral part of maintaining a drug-free existence, and this sentiment is also shared by multiple studies and academics. Professor Robert E. Drake of Dartmouth University’s Geisel School of Medicine recently said, “employment always has been intimately intertwined with psychological health”. The Aborigines, Torres Strait and Maori peoples share a common belief similar to Professor Drake’s – that social, mental, physical and spiritual health are all interlinked.

TDDA agrees that employees need social, mental and physical support, and a sense of purpose, to remain happy and effective at work. This holistic view leads to healthier workplaces. Last year the Mental Health Commissioner reported that one in five New Zealanders lives with a mental illness and/or an addiction. According to the Australian government agency Health Direct, one in five Australians experiences mental illness during their lifetime, with substance use disorder being one of the most common. A literature review by US social work academics Matthew T. Walton and Mark T. Hall found that 92 percent of the studies they reviewed showed a positive link between employment intervention and substance use treatment outcomes. The studies suggested that a regular salary was a worthwhile incentive for helping those in recovery to stay clean. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Substance Use and Misuse, of 500 people who suffered from substance use disorder and went through the US court system, found that those who received intervention and help with their career were less likely to relapse. It also found a reduction in criminal activities compared with those who did not.

Another US study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, researched physicians recovering from opioid addictions. Under the national Physician Health Program, medical professionals must submit to random drug testing over a five-year period. If a participant tested positive, there was a chance they could lose their licence. The incentives of money and retaining their medical licences proved enough for most to abstain. Only 22 percent of physicians tested positive over the five-year timeframe. There are many ways an employer can help employees stay accountable for their sobriety. One method is drug testing. It is the single most effective weapon to combat adult substance abuse. Drug testing is an essential tool for cultivating and maintaining safe and healthy employees and workplaces. Drug testing is no different from a high vis vest, a hard hat or a seat belt; they all prevent injuries. A worker under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work represents a risk to themselves and others, one where the worst potential outcome is death. Drug testing is a critical part of a compliant, health and safety-focused work culture. Sober employees are safe and effective employees. It is important for business owners to invest in the wellbeing of their employees; as we all know, a company’s people are essential to the success of any business.

TDDA currently conducts more than 200,000 drug tests a year in the workplace in New Zealand and Australia, and has trained more than 4000 managers and supervisors in identifying the signs and symptoms of drugs in employees, and how to deal with these delicate situations. TDDA has ISO 15189:2012 accreditation for workplace drug testing (see NATA and IANZ websites for further detail). TDDA is a drug and alcohol testing leader with more than 64 operations throughout Australasia. Visit www.tdda.com.