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How businesses can reduce the risk of cannabis use in younger employees

A recent study, spearheaded by the University of Bath, has found that compared to older people, adolescents and young adults experience more health risks when using cannabis. These issues are not related to the frequency of use or strength of the drug.

 Cannabis use trends and consequences in adolescents

During the investigation, researchers monitored 70 adults and 76 adolescents who used cannabis. They also tracked the type and strength of the THC content in the drugs used.

This is the first known study that proved that varying cannabis quantities and strengths do not affect increased vulnerability to cannabis use disorder (CUD). It also asserts that regular use makes younger people more susceptible to CUD.

As a recognised mental health issue, cannabis use disorder impacts both psychological and physical wellbeing. Typically, people with CUD fail to reduce or quit cannabis use, suffer from cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and often use the drug in dangerous circumstances.

Researchers believe that adolescents may be more disposed to CUD as their brains are still developing. Data indicates that one in five adolescents in the UK used cannabis at least once at the age of 15. Addiction to this drug is the top reason why many young people seek treatment.

 What can employers do to prevent CUD?

In the UK, employers have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. This responsibility extends past the mitigation of physical hazards and includes the mental welfare of workers.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that employers should develop policies and procedures to deal with workplace drug issues. The HSE also flagged some common behaviours indicating the probability of an alcohol or drug problem. These include frequent absenteeism, irregular behaviours, and incidents or performance issues.

A workplace drug testing scheme empowers employers to identify cannabis use among employees and reach out to those in need. Businesses should partner with alcohol and drug testing experts, such as Matrix Diagnostics, to:

  • Establish workplace drug testing policies that are compliant with UK legislation.
  • Train representatives in the administration of drug tests.
  • Determine if laboratory or on-site drug tests should be used.

Additionally, employers must strive to prevent burnout in employees as work pressures may lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as the misuse of cannabis. Businesses can implement measures to manage workloads.

Work environments that spotlight mental wellbeing typically have sound communication strategies and timelines in place. People handle stress differently, and for this reason, companies must not apply a generic burnout approach to all employees. Flexible policies that are regularly reviewed help address individual needs and reactions.

Employers should educate managers about the importance of mental health and how to recognise when employees are experiencing difficulties. Individualised wellbeing programmes help to pinpoint common and specific anxieties around workloads and triggers.

Before running workplace drug tests, employers must openly communicate the reasons why they are essential. Emphasising employee wellbeing will put workers at ease and also give them the confidence to ask for help if they have a cannabis misuse problem.

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