‘Beersies’ are a normalised part of Kiwi culture. Have been for decades. Not everybody chooses to imbibe. But plenty of us do. And alcohol is often present at work functions. Tales of what went on at the office party are legend and red faces and a few ‘sick days’ are an accepted part of many work cultures.

Alcohol is legal. We drink lots of booze but few people want to be seen as the workplace ‘party pooper’. Particularly if they lead the business and like a drop themselves.

But people who work in the are of alcohol and drug addiction services, are on record as stating that alcohol is the drug that causes most harm. To the individuals who choose to use and the communities of which they are part.

And an out of control alcohol habit, can have profound implications for workplace health and safety, customer and employee/worker relations.

But alcohol, is not the only substance of abuse that is popular in New Zealand. Illicit drug use is increasingly normalised. Where alcohol is relatively easy to pick up on, typically you can smell it or use low cost breathalysers like the RBT Mini (Link to website) to identify a problem, this is not the case for many drugs.

Synthesised chemical drugs such as methamphetamine, are increasingly popular. These drugs are easily hidden, can be used in multiple ways which can be hard to detect and are less likely to be picked up by a workplace drug test. The reason they are not picked up has nothing to do with how many people are using them. Lots of people choose to use.

More are choosing to use synthetic chemical drugs than ever before. This is because they are cleared from the body far more quickly than old ‘favourites’ such as marijuana. Where the active ingredient of marijuana, THC and its metabolites, stick around for days, meth is cleared from the body in hours. So, people choose to use, as they are less likely to fail a workplace drug test.

Use of drugs like meth, increases the risks that arise from drug uses by workers/ employees. The anti-social behaviours that can be associated with drug and alcohol are more likely to occur. Health and safety issues can be more profound and the likelihood of theft and conversion can increase. Drug habits are expensive and the money has to come from somewhere. Often, this is from fellow employees/workers who are sold drugs by a colleague. One bad apple can truly spoil the whole bunch!

In the absence of an effective drug and alcohol policy, staff training in how to handle tricky situations and ongoing professional support, dealing with people who abuse drugs and alcohol can be a nightmare. Unless you address the elephant in the room, unless you make it clear that there is no place in your culture for out f control drug habits, they can take over. And when that happens, the very viability of the business itself is at risk.

Don’t wait for the ‘elephant’ to compromise your hard work and effort. Get policy in place and work with people who understand the risks and challenges presented by drugs and alcohol in the workplace. We actively work with business people who want to strengthen their organisational culture, increase engagement and limit the negative effects drugs and alcohol can have on business.

If you don’t have a Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy in place, talk with us. We can help develop and implement and impairment focused model for you. Even if you do have a policy in place, it is important that you are actively raising staff awareness. Both in terms of what to look for as far as identifying issues is concerned. And most importantly, what to do about it. Our approach to risk management is sensitive and includes all these things. Find out more about our services here.

Drug-induced mood disorder

If using a drug is done to create a ‘positive’ emotional state, once that drug starts to leave the system, the opposite can be true. People may have times when they feel depressed – sad, restless, irritable, tired, loss of pleasure, or manic –  where they experience and elevated mood, delusions, impulsive behaviour, racing thoughts. Again, changes to mood increase as a person’s habitual drug use become more entrenched.