If we allow it, drug and alcohol addiction can happen to anyone. Drugs don’t discriminate. One innocent partake of any drug including overuse of prescription medicine can spiral into a world of dependence.
The stereotypes of a drug addict, junkie, or dope-head are flown out the window, as it can be anyone who chooses to indulge in illicit substances. Drug dependants can be young or old, professionals, or from any sector of the community. Some people can hide their addiction from others, though it’s usually not long until it is discovered.
Drug use in the home or at work is unfortunately common. The National Drug Household Survey 2019 found that 43% of Australians over the age of 14 years had consumed a drug in their lifetime and over 16% had used one within the last 12 months.
Age doesn’t even matter when addiction takes its toll. An example of becoming dependant on drugs at any age or at any professional career stage is Mark Hancock who was a senior business executive and an ice addict at the age of 63. Mark tells his story of how he introduced drugs into his life and how he managed to rehabilitate himself back to a life without drugs.
In Mark’s case like many workers who are under pressure to stay awake or work longer hours, he turned to drugs to band-aid the problem. Attending work whilst being under the influence or through the coming-down intoxicated phase is bad, not only for the person but for their colleagues who have to deal with the mood swings, the job is not being done properly and an unsafe environment.
If an employee is suspected of being under the influence it is the employer’s legal responsibility to ensure the employee is removed at that time from the workplace to allow a safe working environment for the other employees. Drug testing onsite is highly recommended. Employers are obliged to address drug and alcohol issues in the workplace and are required to take practical steps to ensure the health and safety of persons in their worksite.
A drug and alcohol management program implemented and employees regularly trained on the drug policy will support a safe workplace. And for the employees who need support, the business can provide access to an employee assistance program to help them on the right path.