Keeping an Eye on the Drivers of Drug Choice

Illicit drug use seems to go in cycles. Heroin, ice, ecstasy, MDMA, and other types of drugs cycle in and out of popularity. The police, government, Saliva Drug Testand nonprofits keep track of these cycles by collecting statistics on things like the number of people showing up in emergency rooms due to overdose, the number of arrests connected to drug use, the number of busts of home drug-cooking laboratories, and so on. Though not an entertaining exercise, think like a drug user for a moment. How does a person choose what drugs to use? What are the drivers that prompt a person to choose one drug over another?

As is true for any product, legal or not, there are market and economic drivers guiding drug choice. There are many cases where the initial drug use was prompted by factors like peer pressure or curiosity. However, once hooked on drugs, many addicts switch from one drug to another and back again in a continuous cycle of drug abuse. Interestingly, the factors that drive drug choice sound like traditional business principles – availability, price, and accessibility.

Looking Ahead to Market Demand for Drugs

In 2000, a study reported Australia had 74,000 dependent heroin users. In 2005, a different study reported there were 72,700 dependent methamphetamine users. In comparing the study, the question was asked as to whether there were now 146,000 people dependent on heroin or meth, or if these were basically the same group of people who had switched from heroin to meth. The conclusion was that people had altered their drug use (heroin) to switch to a new drug (meth) or were using both drugs (heroin and meth) because meth had become available.1

Heroin is a drug that goes through cycles of scarcity and availability or expensive and inexpensive and even weak versus strong products, depending on where the drug is coming from and what is added to the mixture. The cycles are integrated, creating a true marketplace subject to the same economic principles as any other product. Sometimes there is advance notice of a changing market. Employers should have heeded the warning in 2008 that inexpensive Afghanistan opium was going to flood Australia and end a heroin shortage. The opium was going to be purer and cheaper. The Victorian Police Drug Squad reported at the time that heroin prices had already declined by 40 percent.2 Thus, it would have been reasonable to forecast greater market demand for heroin, meaning it is likely more workers would use heroin.

After the dire predictions, heroin use did increase for several years. Then a new trend started. Jumping forward to 2013, a review of ambulance emergency statistics indicated a 318 percent rise in emergency calls in Melbourne involving crystal methamphetamine (ice) during the two-year period of 2010 to 2012. Though there are many drivers of ice use, one of them is the fact it can be smoked rather than injected. Another driver is increased accessibility due to the increased flow of crystal meth from international dealers and the increase in home-grown meth labs.3 The significant rise in ice use between 2010 and 2011 was also documented by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Testing for Multiple Drugs of Choice

The cycles of drug use are precisely why it is important to use drug testing products that test for more than one drug. There is no way an employer can predict whether a worker will use cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, amphetamine, or cannabis. It depends on the drug flow, accessibility, ease-of-use, and price. News reports and government statistics can help employers understand what cycle particular illicit drugs are likely to enter or are already in, but only drug testing can determine the exact drug being used at the moment by an individual. There are many testing products available today, including one for detecting synthetic cannabis.

CMM (cmm.com.au) offers the full range of drug and alcohol testing products, including the Alere DDS2 Mobile Saliva Drug Test System and the DrugWipe 5S. The selection of products testing for multiple drugs gives employers the opportunity to select the one that best fits their needs and budgets.

Resources

  1. Lynne Magor-Blatch. (2008, October). Substance use in the 21st Century: Different or more of the same? Retrieved from Australian Psychological Society: http://bit.ly/19HE58F
  2. Connor Duffy. (2008, June 3). Record Afghanistan opium crop to see cheap heroin flood Australia. Retrieved from ABC Australia: http://ab.co/1cLN4Ro
  3. Oliver Milman. (2013, September 16). Dramatic rise in crystal meth casualties fuels fear of Australian ‘ice’ boom. Retrieved from The Guardian: http://bit.ly/1mkkuvB

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Common Patterns of Continued Drug Use

Common Patterns of Continued Drug UseThough each person who uses drugs and alcohol will exhibit a unique set of symptoms, common patterns of behaviour and drug use have been identified. Ranging from no substance use to dependency, each person fits somewhere on a continuum of behaviours and effects. People moving from left to right on the continuum reach points along the way where their behaviours and emotional states indicate that a new level of drug or alcohol (or both) influence on the body and mind has been reached. However, a worker may progress slowly and experience each stage or progress so rapidly that early stages are skipped. For example, a drug abuser may go from no drug use to using drugs on a regular basis and skip the stage where drugs are only used socially. The key point for employers is that random drug and alcohol tests can interrupt a pattern at any point, leading to the worker getting professional help.

There are points used to measure the status of someone’s substance use. The first point is called “no use.” People who do not use drugs are making a choice to not do so. The reason may have something to do with personal values or previous use of drugs. At the experimental stage, someone tries using drugs mostly out of curiosity or because of peer pressure. Though teenagers come to mind first, there are thousands of adults who use drugs the first time at office parties or during work lunch breaks. Situational use is when drugs are used as a coping mechanism. Recreational substance use refers to using substances just for enjoyment or to enhance socialising. For example, people use drugs in difficult circumstances like working as a miner or construction worker in a remote location. At this point on the continuum there is low tolerance for substances.1

Continuing Down the Wrong Path

At the next stage, drugs and alcohol are misused, even though the person can still control their behaviours and can choose to not use substances unless the circumstances are right or doing so. However, a pattern of use is emerging and the worker may begin to drink every day at the pub after work or use illicit drugs every weekend. Bingeing may start. At this stage, the person may begin coming in late every Monday or begin showing up for work with a hangover or unprepared. Because there is still awareness of how the substance misuse is impacting life activities, it is possible the person will impose rules like limiting the number of drinks at the pub or only using drugs on Friday and Saturday nights. Tolerance for the substances is increasing.

Continuing along the continuum, the misuse of substances becomes compulsive behaviour or dependent use. More of the drugs or alcohol is used more regularly and control is mostly lost. The worker will begin to rationalise the drug use, develop a high tolerance for the substances, and begin to experience major life problems like financial or relationship problems. Employees testing positive on a drug test or failing a breath test after blowing into equipment like the Lion SD 500 will attempt to rationalise the results to the employer by saying things like, “The job stress was making it difficult to meet your deadlines, and I needed more energy if you wanted the job done right.” Employers who begin finding drug paraphernalia like needles, or supplies converted to another use, may be seeing the signs of a compulsive user. There may even be some drugs or alcohol hidden on the premises.

The last stage is dependency in which the drugs or alcohol take over a person’s life. There are no longer patterns of use because the person has lost control and is working to stay “high.” There have been physical and psychological changes induced by the chemicals. There is psychological pain emanating from feelings of hopelessness and loss of control. Tolerance for the substances is high, and the person is usually thinking about how to maintain a supply. Relationships of any kind become very difficult, unless they are with other chemical dependents.

At this stage, a worker needs the drugs or alcohol to feel normal because normal has been redefined. Addicts are so focused on their habits and so physically, emotionally and mentally devastated that they make mistakes like getting careless about hiding their addiction and begin to avoid people. Co-workers are probably whispering about the “change” in a once-friendly employee or how so-and-so was popping pills in the bathroom. Usually, addicts are identified long before this stage in workplaces with drug and alcohol testing programs.

Do No Harm

Australia’s adoption of a harm minimisation approach to drug and alcohol abuse is based on the principles of reducing personal harms and achieving reductions in demand and supply of substances. To implement such a broad strategy, intervention types have been identified as necessary to achieve success. In addressing alcohol abuse harms, the expected interventions are found, like primary health care settings, alcohol problem treatment, and mandatory treatment of repeat drunk drivers. However, also on the list are workplace interventions and mutual/self-help attendance at counselling programs. The substance abuse harm reduction interventions include a set of policies, programs and practices designed to reduce harms associated with addiction, like education of drug harms and early intervention to prevent further substance abuse through counselling and diversion services and treatment programs.2

Employers play an important role in the national effort by implementing random drug and alcohol testing programs. The reality is that the work of harm minimisation cannot start until substance abusers and addicts are identified. Since 80 percent of drug and alcohol users are employed, the task of identification can begin in the workplace. The sooner there is identification of a worker using drugs or alcohol in the workplace, the sooner the worker can reverse the path along the continuum.

It is tempting to consider the individual workplace drug and alcohol policy and testing program as operating in a kind of vacuum. However, each employer program is a component of a larger national system working to reduce the terrible toll that alcoholism and drug addiction take on individuals and society in general. The ultimate purpose of alcohol and drug testing is to help people deal with their substance issues, whilst preserving the health and safety of the employee and co-workers. When a worker tests positive for drugs and alcohol, the employer is then in the ideal position to inform the person of the availability of professional help, like counselling or treatment programs or EAPs.

CMM Technology (cmm.com.au) offers a variety of high quality drug and alcohol testing supplies and a wide choice of testing equipment. Implementing a testing program is not enough. It is critically important for substance testing to produce accurate results at all times to preserve program integrity.

References

  1. Types of drug use. (2011). Australian Drug Foundation. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1dMVdJV.
  2. AIHW. (2011, January). Review of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services – National Minimum Data Set (Drug Treatment Series Number 11). Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, pp. 22-23,

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There Are People Present

In aboriginal tribes, or in man-hunting-man situations, natives and other land-familiar people find that there are plenty of signs in nature toDrug testing in Western Australia indicate if there are people present. If a bird suddenly takes flight, then there is usually a human present. If a flock quickly rises from a lake or river where it had previously been contentedly resting, then there are people present. Other signs, including footprints, smells, smoke, broken bushes and tree branches, and matted ground or pine needles, indicate human presence, as well.

The truth is that, if you find more than two people in your business who are abusing substances, and they happen to be in the same department and you are fairly certain that they know each other, then the chances that one of them is distributing illicit substances to the other are pretty high.

For example, you might find that more than one person at a time usually test positive for alcohol abuse while at work. Chances are they share alcohol together during their break. If two or more employees test positive for the same type of drug, then either one of them is likely supplying the others, or they are all getting their drugs from the same person, perhaps near their workplace. If you are able to tell where the signs are and what the signs mean, you can stop the problem from spreading in the present, and keep it from reoccurring in the future.

Of course, if someone who was previously never high or drunk suddenly shows up to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their coworkers will probably gossip about it. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. There are people present on these hunting grounds.

Make sure that you are ready for these signs. Have quality alcohol tests and drug test kits available in your business, and make sure they come from a reliable source, like CMM Technology. Be ready for anything which might occur. If your employees are fit for duty, then they will do will during their employee drug testing. But, if they are not, then you are looking at what may end up being a repeat offense. To order drug test equipment from CMM Technology, call us today: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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Taking On A Challenge

Drug test equipmentWhen we look at our newsfeeds on Facebook, we may get a lot of “Challenge yourself to rise above the storm, challenge yourself to work harder at this particular subject, or take life as a challenge, not a defeat.” Well, that’s all very well and good, but what happens when you just really feel like being defeated by the challenges in your own life?

I mean, sometimes it is a lot easier to just give up. When do you give up and when do you decide to “challenge yourself”?

That’s a good question.

Taking on a challenge should be a little scary, a little exhilarating, but not completely emotionally overwhelming. It should never take the very last little bit of strength you have left, unless you literally have no other good options available. Challenges should be just that: challenges. They should never be continuous, highly stress inducing events which never seem to stop and which do not allow you to take a break or a breather from the insanity.

Sometimes, people feel that this middle ground, or perceived middle ground, is too gray and lacking in strength. However, it is far better to take little baby steps over and over again, than it is to take leaps and bounds followed by long breaks where you lose your nerve or your confidence and have to start over from the beginning again.

Drug test equipment should not be part of an ultra complicated structure and confusing technology which never lets you figure it out. No, all of your business’ drug test kits and personal breathalyser devices should be efficient, effective, and accurate…but not impossible to use. In fact, CMM Technology specializes in drug testing in Western Australia, because we take great care in choosing the drug test equipment which we will sell to businesses like yours on a regular basis. We want you to have good options, not something which takes challenge to a whole new definition of difficulty.

Instead of wading through your own sweat and tears, order your drug test equipment from CMM Technology. We will take good care of you. Call us today to place your order or for more information: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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Take Off Against the Wind

It’s pretty interesting that it was Henry Ford who said, “If everything seems to be going against you, remember that airplanes take off against theLifeloc FC10 wind, not with it.” Now, in order to properly have this kind of mindset, you shouldn’t have the mental attitude that everything is set against you and that the whole world rains down trouble on you every time you are about to get a good foothold.

That’s just self sabotaging, and furthermore it brings down the morale of everyone around you.

The way to truly grab hold of this “take off against the wind” mindset is to see each new challenge as something which will not continue forever, but which will go away in a timely manner if it is addressed right away.

Yes, you may also have fear or disappointment, but concentrating on the task at hand or focusing on the details of your project will help you to stay focused on your own productivity, not on your lack of fulfillment or reassurance in some manner.

When you look over the results from the drug test equipment you have purchased from CMM Technology, you will enjoy the amount of information which is now available to you. You know who is following company policy regarding drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace. You know who has repeat offenses in this area. You may even know a little bit about their background, and will therefore be able to ascertain if their abuse is likely to continue for very much longer, and if maybe they need a rest or break from work, rather than to be dismissed.

All of these matters will be in your mind while you look over the results from our Lifeloc FC10 breathalyser device, or our Rapid STAT saliva drug test, or any of our other equipment. You will be able to make a better plan to take off against the wind, to rise above seemingly negative circumstances, and to become stronger as a person yourself, while working hard to make sure that your business rises above the wind, rather than being sent into a tailspin. You are in control. Call CMM Technology right now: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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Inspiration for Your Days Off

pro-split cup 6+6Your work may be your life. If you go home from work and lose your incentive or motivation, it may mean that you feel your most productive and are able to achieve your best flow when you are at work. While this is a great experience to have (especially if you’re making money at it) you must find ways of bring that productive enthusiasm to your home life, as well.

First, it’s okay to bring your working mindset home with you. If you are able to view your house and your family through your professional eyes, then you can mentally organize everything and everyone so that it is just as cohesive (or almost as much) as your work life.

Secondly, it’s okay to be lazy if you work really long hours and hardly ever get a day off. While you may temporarily feel guilty while your family and friends are getting things done around you, you should realize that this is your down time, and so it’s okay to do nothing in the middle of all of their activity. Give yourself that time and relaxation period. It is not as if anyone will make sure that you have enough.

Lastly, don’t forget to spend some time, by yourself, alone. This is part of being in your zone and in your happy place, and there is no other way that you can really feed yourself and pamper yourself or tend to your own needs if you cannot get by yourself for a few hours, at the very least.

CMM Technology is the in the business of drug testing in Western Australia. Our drug test equipment, such as our Medix integrated pro-split cup 6+6, is part of drug testing line, and we provide alcohol tests and personal breathalyser recalibration services, as well. Our recalibration services are even NATA accredited. We know that you may need to oversee your company’s employee drug testing program while you are at the office or on the jobsite. However, when you get home, we know that you will be able to relax, knowing that you did your job well and bought high quality drug test equipment from CMM Technology: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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Hard Todays, Calm Tomorrows

Some people work hard every day of their lives, but because they failed to plan ahead and set aside a little more every month, they become Drug testingembroiled in their own workaholic ways and easy spending habits, and thus they keep having difficult tomorrows.

This is sad to watch, because it means that they could have had peace if they had just planned ahead and stuck with their initial strategy. However, since they did not plan for tomorrow, tomorrow came and with it came empty checkbooks and depleted bank accounts.

Even the wiliest of people can bring starvation upon themselves if they do not plan ahead on a pretty regular basis.

However, with a plan in place, you may have a hard today. You may struggle and sweat and bleed for today. But, when tomorrow comes, you will be calm and tomorrow will be taken care of. Therefore, when you are looking to improve your employee drug testing situation, remember that nothing beats having high quality drug test equipment which can last you into the future without all of the pain and suffering of having to upgrade and throw out old equipment every two years.

Instead, look at CMM Technology and what we can provide for your tomorrow and that of your business. Don’t wait until you need to use your drug test kits and alcohol tests right away before you order. Keep a small supply in stock for any occasion or emergency which may arise, especially if you need quick documentation of an inebriated employee right away. Drug testing in Western Australia provides quick, accurate test results through the use of CMM Technology and our equipment. If you need quick documentation, make sure that it is reliable. Be sure and have your drug test equipment on hand right away. Try our oral fluid drug tests, like our Rapid STAT saliva drug test, and start from there. If you like what we have to offer in the way of saliva drug tests, then you might be interested in looking at some of our alcohol tests. The important thing is to keep things up and running and as accurate as possible, so keep a supply of equipment from CMM Technology on hand at all times: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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Evidence of Calm Seas

When a sea is calm, there are certain factors about it which indicate the fact that bad weather is not about to hit at any moment. Fish swim very Drug test equipmentclose to the surface and stay there, rather than coming up and then quickly diving deep. Seagulls are more likely to venture out farther to sea than they would otherwise. The ocean water is clearer and you can see deeper into it. There are numerous areas where dolphins are likely to become friendlier with ships and fishermen and bring them food.

Calm seas bring a wellspring of beauty and food for anything on or in the ocean. This means that people who exhibit calm energy may be more likely to attract good things to themselves than other people are able to. There is an inherent ability to productively use resources which is directly correlated with plenty of those resources.

This is the nature of money, the nature of food, and the nature of just about every other natural thing in the world.

When someone gives evidence of calm seas, they are more likely to inspire friendships and to commune with non-sociable people who feel afraid around everyone else. Calm seas attract the best in everyone, and they bring stability to someone who is yelling or insulting you. Being calm is one of the best ways to get someone to lower their voice in a fight and deal with you in a more reasonable manner.

The evidence of calm seas in people extends to health and beauty, too. People who are choose to stay calm look better and age better, and on top of that, they are able to better retain normal blood pressure as they age, and their faculties last them a lot longer.

CMM Technology provides our NATA accredited breathalyser recalibration service and, just in case you don’t have anything to calibrate, plenty of alcohol tests for your business. We provide urine and saliva drug tests, and our even popular Rapid STAT saliva drug test is available for purchase right now. If you need to evaluate your staff with employee drug testing, remember that your business will be stronger (and calmer) for it. Call CMM Technology today: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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A Bit of an Intellectual Dilemma

Let’s say that you are faced with the following situation: You must let go of one of your employees, because your business needs to cut down one orUrine drug test two of the staff. You have a really good and highly productive employee who does not have desirable drug testing results, and you have a fairly lazy, lackadaisical employee who always tests clean.

What do you do? It is, indeed, a bit of an intellectual dilemma, because if you did not have the drug testing results, you would definitely choose to retain the more productive employee who has a better attitude and work ethic. Then again, you do not want to gamble with the safety of your other workers or break company policy if your business does not have a multiple strike option for employees who have less than desirable drug testing results.

The first thing you should do is to double check that the data you have for all of your employees is accurate. For that, you may need to switch companies which supply drug test kits and alcohol tests to your business. CMM Technology provides reliable equipment which you can depend upon, and that kind of mental reassurance is something that is definitely worth the investment of change equipment suppliers.

Now, as long as all of your data is coming from a reliable source, like our Lifeloc FC10 or our Medix integrated pro-split cup 6+6, with built in adulterant test, then you can go forward with your decision regarding everyone’s safety and company policy without any further doubt in your mind. Also, double checking test results which you are not sure about is always a good idea, anyway, particularly when it comes to long term business decisions. Make sure that the first time counts with drug test equipment from CMM Technology.

Intellectual dilemmas like these may come across your desk once in a while, but hopefully it doesn’t happen too often, especially now that you have a really good quality equipment supplier. You will always want to make the most out of what you have. For more information, contact CMM Technology today: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.

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When Drug Testing Becomes a Reward System

Urine Drug TestIt has been a mystery why some people seem to be unable to overcome drug addiction, but the mystery is slowly being unravelled. The impact of various drugs on brain functioning, and their ability to rewire message signalling to the rest of the body, are become less enigmatic with each study. As the research continues, a new question is being asked: Can addicts ever truly overcome their addiction? Are once-addicts always attracted to their drug of choice, and can the brain ever return to its original state? As researchers attempt to find answers, it is important to realise that there are people who do stop using drugs and are able to resist succumbing to lure of “getting high” again. For these people, random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace can become a component of a personal reward system. Each negative test reinforces success in the personal effort to stay away from drugs.

Which Came First: Brain Abnormality or Drug-Induced Changes

The basis for a recent study reported in Biological Psychiatry began with questions that went along these lines: Is a person using psychostimulants like cocaine naturally more impulsive, and the drugs further alter the brain reward circuits, increasing impulsiveness even more and eventually leading to addiction? Or do brain abnormalities exist before addiction in a way that the abnormalities, and not necessarily the drug effects on the brain, lead to addiction?1 Another way to state the problem is: Which came first, the abnormality or the drug-induced brain changes?

To answer the question, a group of medical researchers conducted a study at the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital in which three groups of people performed the same tasks. One was a control group made up of healthy individuals who do not use drugs. The second group consisted of current cocaine users. The third group had members who had not used cocaine for an average of four years. A very brief description of the results is that people currently using cocaine and people who were once addicted to cocaine have elevated impulsivity measures compared to the control group. The measures were based on multiple brain regions associated with reward processing. The possible interpretation of the study results is that the people using cocaine or who once used cocaine had a pre-existing risk of developing addiction.2

Drug Testing Becomes a Pat on the Back

Another implication of this study is that some people who stop using cocaine will still retain some of their natural impulsivity, since it is not due entirely to the drug. If further studies support the findings, it means that addiction recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime. Workers who have ended drug abuse can benefit from reward systems that encourage continued drug abstinence as they continually work to overcome impulsive thinking that is a consequence of natural brain “wiring.”

For these employees, drug testing can become a “pat on the back” by reinforcing success. Each negative drug test is proof the worker has stayed off drugs and is doing a good job at managing their health. All too often, drug testing is viewed as a management tool for detecting people using drugs, but there is another way to look at it. Drug testing also shows who is not using drugs and these are the people to be congratulated. A negative drug test to a person who was once addicted is a very happy event.

As research studies continue to explore addiction, it is important for employers to accentuate the positive elements of workplace health and safety that are the ultimate targets of drug testing programs. CMM Technology (cmm.com.au) is an important business partner able to fill all employer requirements for drug and alcohol products.

Resources

  1. Krishna T. Patel, Michael C. Stevens, Shashwath A. Meda, Christine Muska, Andre D. Thomas, Marc N. Potenza, Godfrey D. Pearlson. Robust Changes in Reward Circuitry During Reward Loss in Current and Former Cocaine Users During Performance of a Monetary Incentive Delay Task. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (7): 529 DOI:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.04.029.
  2. Elsevier (2013, September 23). Addiction: Can you ever really completely leave it behind?.ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from http://bit.ly/18J3D4I.

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Quality of D&A Testing Programs Does Matter

The impact of drugs and alcohol on the workplace is staggering. The Australian Drug Foundation estimates that alcohol and other drugs have a Drug Test equipmentbusiness cost of $6 billion. The costs are associated with accidents (25 percent), employees taking a day-off, lost productivity, and so on.1 Instituting a drug and alcohol policy and random testing program are first steps in combating the terrible consequences of drug and alcohol misuse. However, simply having written D&A policy and procedures is not enough. Employers need a quality program that encompasses the body of knowledge concerning workplace substance abuse, which is always growing.

Drug and alcohol use and addiction is a complicated topic. At one time, people believed that anyone could overcome addiction without help, if the person was sincere about stopping substance abuse. Now there is increasing evidence that people actually “rewire” their brain, and making the decision to quit drugs and alcohol is not always possible without intervention. At one point, it was also believed that stress had a minimal impact on the decision to use drugs because it was all a matter of choice. After numerous surveys and studies, it is believed that workplace stressors do influence a person’s decision to consume drugs or alcohol.

In addition, it was fairly recent that health researchers began studying the impact of external factors on workplace drug use. External factors include an employee’s beliefs about taking drugs or drinking alcohol, family lifestyle, community cultural norms, and personal values. Employees arrive at the workplace with expectations, beliefs, perspectives, and a history of behaviours. In hindsight, it seems so obvious that people do not leave their personal lives behind just because they started working. Substance abuse is the result of a complicated mix of internal and external factors.2

Evaluate and Revise

Based on that premise and backed up by research, a quality and most effective workplace drug and alcohol program involves more than issuing a policy and conducting drug and alcohol tests. The Australian Drug foundation offers guidelines for developing a workplace policy. The policy should:3

  • Be based on unique workplace risks, i.e. work location, type of work, co-worker subcultures, and so on
  • Thoroughly and clearly delineate goals and objectives, and clearly state the employer’s position on substance use in the workplace
  • Clearly describe relevant workplace issues and conditions and expected behaviours at business events, like office parties, meetings, and celebrations
  • Outline procedures for responding to workers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, emphasising opportunities for counseling and rehabilitation
  • Be clearly communicated and regularly reinforced through ongoing employee training and education
  • Be clearly understood by managers and supervisors responsible for program management
  • Go through regular evaluation to ensure the policy is relevant and successful
  • Be presented in the context of workplace safety and employer health

Employers often overlook the evaluation step, yet that is the only way to verify whether goals are attained or that strategies are effective. The evaluation can report on the number of incidences, patterns of use, employee attitudes towards the policy, management perspectives, and other factors the employer considers important. When communicating drug testing procedures, it is important to present them in a way that raises awareness of workplace risks. It is common to mostly discuss things like who will be tested and who will do the testing. That is not enough because it removes drug and alcohol testing from the bigger picture of workplace health and safety and turns it into a rote procedure.

Focusing on What is Important

A quality drug and alcohol policy and program is focused on the people who make up the organisation and not just on monitoring. Poorly designed and implemented D&A policies and procedures can cause more harm than good in terms of employee relations and reducing workplace risks. The policy should be comprehensive, offer opportunities for counseling, require ongoing employee education, and be a major tool for creating a workplace culture of intolerance for drugs and alcohol. It is not something written, published, and then filed away, never to be changed or revised.

At CMM Technology (cmm.com.au), experienced professionals work closely with managers to provide the right type of drug and alcohol testing supplies that facilitate business objectives. The saliva, urine, and breath tests are designed to make testing as efficient as possible and add to the quality of the D&A program.

References

  1. ADF. (2010). Alcohol and drugs are a cost to your business. Retrieved from Australian Drug Foundation: http://bit.ly/1fD93NZ
  2. Ken Pidd & Ann Roche. (2013, July 1). Workplace alcohol and other drug programs: What is good practice? Retrieved from Australian Drug Foundation: http://bit.ly/1jDrh7D
  3. Pidd & Roche

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Myths About Addiction and Recovery (Every Employer Should Know)

Cost of Drug Testing“Did you see how much beer that bloke drank at the office party without getting drunk? Wish I could do that.” It is tempting in the Australian culture to admire people who are able to down multiple beers and still appear to be unaffected. Drinking is endemic in society, and it is not always possible to judge the effects that alcohol or drugs are having on each person. Someone can be using illicit drugs and not have yet reached the point at which physical symptoms become noticeable. There may be behavioural symptoms, but not always. Until a person reaches a point of dependence, and thus desperation, it is a myth to believe drug and alcohol abuse will be obvious in everyone. That is just one myth, and one reason why random testing for drugs and alcohol is so important.

Building a Support System

The myths do not stop with the symptoms of drug and alcohol use. They also abound in the area of addiction recovery. Workers who agree to participate in an Employee Assistance Plan or to get addiction counselling will return to work at some point. Subscribing to the myths about recovery can harm the workers chances of resuming a substance-free, productive life. Myths about addiction recovery develop because people do not always take the time to study the latest health research, or they listen to people who really are not sure what they are talking about.

Employers should be aware of the typical myths about alcohol and drug addiction recovery for two reasons. First, it helps the employer develop a plan that supports the returning worker’s success in staying away from substances. Second, dismantling the myths in employee training and development sessions builds effective peer support. Though the privacy of workers should always be protected, it is difficult for a worker who “disappears” for a period of time to keep it as secret that he or she had to seek addiction treatment.

A myth that should be dispelled is that people who crave drugs and alcohol have no willpower. The body of scientific research supports the fact that illicit drugs and persistent use of alcohol impacts brain chemistry. Addiction is caused by a mixture of emotional, physical, and psychological factors. A recovered worker returning to a place of employment should not be told he or she has no willpower or was just being weak. It shows a true lack of knowledge about addiction.

Another myth is that a relapse means the person will become an addict once again. The returning worker may relapse, but it is how the relapse is managed that really matters. If the person is able to recall the misery of addiction and can immediately return to recovery, the one relapse is not necessarily devastating. However, the statistics on the chances of relapse occurring are high enough to lead employers to place returning workers in non-safety sensitive positions for a period of time.

Forever “On Alert”

True addiction can be considered a chronic illness. A person who has recovered is now fully aware of their propensity to become addicted due to genetics, brain chemistry changes, or other reasons. Recovery must be managed over a lifetime, just like any other chronic health condition.1 It is a myth to believe the worker is recovered and that is the end of the story. People serious about recovery do return to work, assume their prior positions, and are productive the rest of their lives. It is just important to recognise they are always “on alert”.

Yet another myth is that withdrawal symptoms automatically mean a person is addicted. Like the bloke who drinks too much and yet shows no outward indications of drunkenness, a person withdrawing from cocaine may not show observable signs of withdrawal. Employers are often surprised by random drug test results because the employee testing positive did not show symptoms of use or withdrawal.

As for people who drink heavily and seem fine, the fact is they have been affected even if there are no visible signs. Each person reacts in a different way to alcohol, and reactions depend on many factors. These include the type of drink and personal characteristics. Weight, gender, and age influence alcohol affects. The state of mind has an impact also.2 The bloke at the work party may be hyper-sensitive about his behaviour in front of co-workers and manages to control alcohol-induced actions. When that person cannot pass a breathalyser test during a work shift, no one is really surprised because of how well the person is able to control reactions. Of course, anyone who continues drinking without interruption will eventually succumb and show signs of being drunk. This simply supports the critical need for random alcohol testing in the workplace.

Buying into the myths about drug and alcohol addiction and recovery can harm the health and safety of the workplace. CMM Technology (cmm.com.au) has a host of products designed to detect drugs and alcohol. What happens after detection depends on the employer’s full understanding of the long-term impacts of substance abuse, including after the employee returns to work upon completing treatment.

Reference

1 Exploding Drug Myths. (2007, March 15). Retrieved from Addiction Science Research and Education Center, University of Texas: http://bit.ly/JmzBYD

2 Alcohol & other drugs services in Victoria – Facts and Myths. (2013, February 5). Retrieved from Department of Health, Victoria, Australia: http://bit.ly/1e7zme1

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