Drug and Alcohol Misuse
Workers experiencing psychological distress – whether from trauma, intimidation, overwork, isolation, unreasonable pressure, excessive hours – are more at risk of chronic anxiety and depression, more at risk of substance-use disorders and more at risk of suicide and self-harm.
People with mental illness experience drug and alcohol problems at higher rates than the general community (with up to 50% having a comorbid drug or alcohol disorder) 1(SOURCE: 1 National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016; https://www.aihw.gov.au/)
While drug and alcohol misuse and dependence are, of themselves, clinically recognised mental disorders, they commonly co-occur with anxiety and major depressive disorders.
And work stress plays a significant role in the incidence and development of these disorders (around 90% of workers’ compensation claims involving a mental disorder are linked to work-related stress or mental stress).
SOURCE: Report: The Australian Workplace Barometer: Report on Psychosocial Safety Climate and Worker Health in Australia, Prof M. Dollard, et al, University of South Australia (2012).
If experiencing deep depression and anxiety, reaching for alcohol or drugs can be seen by the sufferer as providing a temporary escape.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations require businesses to manage risk of impairment due to the misuse of drugs or alcohol. For their part, employees are required to always present ‘fit for work’ – in other words, not impaired by the effects of legal or illegal drugs or alcohol.
© 2019 The LITTLE BLUE BOOK OF WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH – pages 86 – 109