Treatment and rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse

When employees are diagnosed with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, the response of some employers is to either offer them treatment or to insist on treatment as an option to dismissal.

Questions frequently posed by employers when referring an employee for drug and alcohol abuse treatment would include:

  • What sort treatments are available?
  • Will the treatment be successful?
  • What happens after treatment?

This article will attempt to answer these questions.

Treatment for alcohol and drug abuse

There is a wide spectrum of treatment available for drug and alcohol abuse, both inpatient and outpatient and ranging from the least to the most intensive. The least intensive being the simple giving of information on drug and alcohol abuse and the most intensive being an inpatient treatment programme offering detoxification, information, education, counseling and therapy.

In 2007-8 in Australia counseling was the most common form treatment, with 40% of all treatment episodes being a counseling session.[1]

People seeking treatment are assessed for the most suitable treatment, both in terms of the suitability of a particular treatment and person’s needs. Whether or not someone can pay for a particular treatment or is able to get time off work for an inpatient programme would also influence the type of treatment offered.

There are a number of treatment centres in Australia, with details available from Treatment-Centers.net[2]

Will the treatment be successful?

In looking at success in drug and alcohol abuse treatment, there are a number of factors to consider and a number of variables.

  • How do we indicate success?
  • Which substance was being abused – alcohol, opium, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, prescription drugs?
  • How long had the person been abusing drugs and/or alcohol?
  • What type of treatment was given?
  • How long did the treatment last?
  • What support systems were available after treatment?

The only way to measure the success of drug and alcohol abuse treatment programmes is by way of follow-up studies. Such studies are expensive to conduct and, therefore, there are relatively few comprehensive follow-up studies in comparison with the number of treatment programmes.

A report on one of the most comprehensive follow-up studies undertaken is the Year Seven Report of the Outcomes Monitoring System Iowa Report.[3] People were interviewed six months after discharge and the following interesting statistics emerge from this report.

  • On admission 0% of the people were abstinent as opposed to 51.4% who were abstinent at follow-up.
  • On admission 32.4% of the people had not been arrested in the previous twelve months, whereas at follow-up 87.4% had not been arrested in the previous six months.
  • On admission 32.5% of the people were employed full-time and at follow up 46.8% were employed full-time
  • Treatment success measured by abstinence was significantly better for stays of 60 days as compared with stays of 30 days or less.
  • Employment rates were also positively correlated with length of stay.
  • Alcohol abusers were slightly more likely to be abstinent at follow-up than illicit drug users.

Although these results are not dramatic they do indicate that more than half of the people who undergo treatment are abstinent after six months.

Of interest to employers is the fact that the proportion of people employed full-time after treatment increases significantly. This indicates that investing a staff who abuse alcohol or drugs would be a solid investment.

What happens after treatment?

The period after treatment is critical for the success of the treatment. Follow-up is important to monitor the person, particularly with regard to abstinence. For this employers can play a significant role with regular drug and alcohol testing. It is important that this testing is done within the confines of the law and your company policy. You cannot just ask an employee to take a breathalyser test or collect a urine or saliva sample. Samples also have to be collected correctly to ensure valid results.

CMM Technology offers the Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector Nationally Accredited Training to assist you in your testing practice.[4] You can also purchase equipment for your testing from CMM Technology. The Oraline® Saliva Drug Test is created by a leading manufacturer of saliva tests. This technology is clinically proven to accurately detect drug presence in human saliva samples. Its simple application has made The Oraline® Saliva Drug Test a popular mode of testing – attested by its many years of use in the Australian market. CMM Technology also provides a comprehensive and convenient ‘starter kit’ which contains everything you need to commence your workplace drug and alcohol testing program.[5]

Urine drug testing[6] equipment and supplies are also provided by CMM Technology as well as breathalysers[7]

Besides the regular drug and alcohol testing, the employee returning to work after treatment for his drug or alcohol problem needs to experience the support of his manager. It is also important for the employee to know that his employer has confidence in him to remain abstinent.

The manager has the responsibility of assisting in the smooth transition of the employee back into the workplace and to deal with the pressures he may experience from his colleagues.

Works Cited

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2007-08: report on the National Minimum Data Set. (2009, October 23). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from (AIHW) Australia’s national agency for health: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468294

Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing. (2010). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-alcohol-testing-c-43_52.html

Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Urine Drug Testing . (2010). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-urine-drug-testing-c-43_51.html

Outcomes Monitoring System – Iowa Project – Year Seven Report. (2005, September). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from The Iowa Consortium: http://iconsortium.subst-abuse.uiowa.edu/downloads/IDPH/oms_project_sept2005.pdf

Treatment Centers in Australia. (2011, March 25). Retrieved march 25, 2011, from treatment-centers.net: http://www.treatment-centers.net/treatment-directory/australia.html

Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector. (201). Retrieved January 04, 2011, from CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/services-training-drug-alcohol-training-certified-collector-training-p-101.html?cPath=57_63_62


[1] (Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2007-08: report on the National Minimum Data Set, 2009)

[2] (Treatment Centers in Australia, 2011)

[3] (Outcomes Monitoring System – Iowa Project – Year Seven Report, 2005)

[4] (Workplace Based Certified Drug & Alcohol Collector, 201)

[5] (Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Urine Drug Testing , 2010)

[6] (Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Urine Drug Testing , 2010)

[7] (Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing, 2010)

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