Which is More Dangerous in the Workplace: Substance Abuse or Withdrawal?

Drug and alcohol abuse are known for the dangerous conditions they create. However, it is also purported that withdrawal symptoms can also be dangerous. Is one more likely to cause harm to the public than the other?

In a report by Stewart and Brown, abusers of multiple substances find it more difficult to quit any one addiction, than abusers of one or two substances. Specifically, nicotine in combination with drugs or alcohol seems to have a noticeable effect on withdrawal symptoms, increasing them to almost an unbearable level. Alcohol also had an exacerbating effect, but only after heavy abuse. [1]

A study by West and Gossop describes how opiate and nicotine abuse seem to have the greatest physical and physiological withdrawal symptoms, even leading to temporary sickness, infection or influenza symptoms during abstinence. Physical side effects, while greatly affecting mood, does not necessarily lead to a danger to others. Withdrawal from stimulants, however, can create various forms and degrees of depression, which has been shown to cause dangerous situations in high-hazard industries, as well as leading to thoughts of suicide and carelessness on the jobsite.[2]

Furthermore, the research performed by West and Gossop describes how withdrawal symptoms may not be the primary factor in leaving drug or alcohol addiction. In most cases, compulsive use is the defining characteristic in the continuance of substance abuse, not the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. [2]

Heron, Shinitzky and Samuel investigated lipid microviscosity in the brain membranes during morphine abuse and withdrawal. While the viscosity decreased during initial morphine abuse, it achieved equilibrium during long-term abuse due to cholesterol content. However, during withdrawal, these membranes became hyperviscous, which caused the central nervous system to reach incredible sensitivity…and irritability. Morphine may be one of the more dangerous substances from which to abstain, since high sensitivity can mean violent mood swings, high irritability, short temper, physical aggression and unsafe working conditions. [3]

CMM Technology offers quality drug and alcohol testing equipment. It is important to keep your employees tested on a regular basis, especially if they start exhibiting unsafe behavior at work. Whether they are abusing or suffering from withdrawal symptoms, the sooner they quit their illicit behavior, the safer their working environment will be. It is important to realize that even withdrawal can take its temperamental toll on everyone in the workplace, but that safety is the most important priority when running a business. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Withdrawal and dependency symptoms among adolescent alcohol and drug abusers.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1360-0443.1995.9056274.x/abstract.

2. “Overview: A comparison of withdrawal symptoms from different drug classes.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03747.x/abstract.

3. “Alleviation of drug withdrawal symptoms by treatment with a potent mixture of natural lipids.” ScienceDirect – European Journal of Pharmacology . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T1J-475SKC4-4C&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F24%2F1982&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1687034493&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=aed1f0991e5d710f4d81082f4aaa8e8e&searchtype=a.

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