Businesses are capable of reducing substance abuse in their workplaces through the implementation of drug and alcohol first-aid programs, according to new research.
A study conducted by researchers at the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University examined the experiences of over 100 managers and supervisors who undertook alcohol and other drug (AOD) training sessions. The results revealed that workplaces have the capacity to prevent, ameliorate or exacerbate AOD use.
As illicit drug use continues to increase alongside a general decline in irresponsible drinking, businesses should consider taking advantage of training workshops in order to remain aware of key issues concerning AOD use.
Training of managers and supervisors in these courses can enhance the workplace culture, policy and physical environment, making time spent at work safer and healthier. The programs also improve skills, knowledge and understanding in tackling the workplace risks of AOD use, as well as raise levels of individual self-help.
Researchers suggest businesses set a goal for the new year to take a systemic top-down approach to reducing AOD abuse, which in turn will reveal overlooked problems that might be affecting employee health, injury rates and productivity.
Problems concerning company profitability may also be revealed, with alcohol-related absenteeism costing Australian businesses up to $2 billion a year.
According to NCETA Director Professor Ann Roche, in order for the top-down approach to be most effective it should complement AOD training for individual workers.
“This study highlights the potential for tackling alcohol and other drug issues in their early stages, commencing with testing and information sessions for individual workers to help encourage and sustain more healthy behaviours.”
Alongside a range of bottom-up approaches, the top-down approach can have innumerable benefits, including the opportunity to identify workplace conditions that may be precursors to AOD use, such as stress or bullying.
Researchers said further study is required into the applicability and suitability of drug and alcohol first-aid programs in different workplaces and industry groups.
“While more than half the participants in workplace AOD workshops say they didn’t have a chance to apply the skills they learnt in the workshop, we recommend more follow-up training and wider implementation of such programs — particularly in industries with high and endemic rates of AOD.”