SUBSTANCE ABUSE POLICY FOR THE WORKPLACE
“The desire to experience some altered state of consciousness seems to be an intrinsic part of the human condition…. we are surrounded by drugs …. the cups of coffee and tea, the glasses of beer, wine and whisky, the cigarettes, the snorts of cocaine, the joints, the tablets of acid, the fixes of heroin, and the ubiquitous tranquillisers and sleeping pills… drug taking still remains one of the easiest and most immediate ways of altering psychological states; for some people the ease and immediacy with which drugs achieve these effects prove particularly seductive.
So long as there are drug takers there will be drug casualties… but the quest to eliminate drug taking has proved to be the search for a chimera. Drug taking is here to stay and one way or another we must all learn to live with drugs. ”
Dr Michael Glossop, Living with drugs,
3rd edition. Ashgate 1993
This policy web page was created in response to a growing awareness of the effect that substance abuse can have within the workplace. It attempts to show the ways that employers may confront the issue in terms of the development of policies and the understanding of inherent legal issues.
The term substance in this case, applies not only to illegal drugs, but also everyday drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. It is important to understand that substance abuse can happen to anyone, at any level in the workplace, and that it should be regarded as a health problem, rather than an immediate cause for dismissal or disciplinary action.
The adoption of such a policy is evidence of good practice on the part of the organisation, not only in terms of welfare of the workforce, but also in terms of increased efficiency, reduction of overheads and the creation of a safer, more pleasant working environment. In short, this page aims to help you to make improvements that will benefit your business in many ways, both foreseen and unforeseen.
This policy applies to the workplace, which is defined as the physical boundaries of the company and the facilities owned or controlled by that company. This web page is intended to provide guidance in achieving the formulation of “A Workplace Policy.”
Section One defines what is meant by a ‘drug’ and ‘risk behaviour’
Section Twohighlights the importance of education when introducing a substance abuse policy, and four models of health education practice are outlined.
Section Three goes on to discuss the scope of a substance abuse policy and confronts the relevant issues.
Section Four gives a brief outline of issues relating to evaluation and monitoring of the policies long-term effectiveness.
This policy web page offers information for the assistance of managers and employees in the workplace. It aims to outline a practical approach to deal with alcohol and drug issues, and also a strategy for the development and implementation of alcohol and drug policies and associated educational initiatives.
Why Your Organisation Needs A Drug And Alcohol Policy
Employee use of psychoactive drugs, including alcohol, prescription and over-the counter drugs, will affect safety and productivity in the workplace. There are three areas of potential loss to a workplace which neglects to address the issues outlined above, these include: Measurable losses
Increased overtime pay
Health insurance claims
Diverted supervisory/managerial time
Friction amongst workers
Damage to public image
Losses related to legal claims
Grievance procedures/other legal actions
Threat to public safety
Illegal drug trafficking in the workplace
To address these concerns, many companies have developed alcohol and drug use policies. A clear, well – communicated drug and alcohol policy can be a valuable management tool when it is reasonably and consistently applied. An effective policy can also be an important part of an integrated employee health and safety strategy.
Drug and alcohol policies should:
be in writing and clearly communicated to all staff;
take into account all applicable human rights and privacy legislation;
emphasise workplace safety;
integrate with attendance management and other occupational health and safety policies;
include accommodation and rehabilitation provisions (e.g. employee assistance programme (EAP) or counselling referrals);
include specific accommodation provisions for users of prescription and over the counter medications;
clearly identify employee and employer responsibilities;
specify the disciplinary consequences of non-compliance; and be reviewed and evaluated periodically.
The White Paper Tackling Drugs Together launched by the Government in 1995, emphasised the need for a multi-disciplinary and partnership approach to deal with the growing problem of drugs in our society. In short, the public and private sectors were encouraged to work together to challenge the problem of illicit drugs.
Go to Section One