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Using drug and alcohol research and statistics in the workplace to promote employee wellbeing

Across the UK, many workers battle drug or alcohol addiction problems. These issues not only affect work attendance and performance, but also impact families, communities and societies at large.

Apart from the social effects, drug and alcohol use also endangers safety in workplaces. UK legislation places a legal duty on employers to mitigate or prevent health and safety issues, which means that they cannot ignore alcohol and drug misuse. Workplace safety risks include:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Absenteeism
  • Improper behaviours
  • Financial losses
  • Legal claims

The UK Government and other relevant authorities and associations regularly release alcohol and drug misuse statistics. These usually make headlines and are then quickly forgotten until the next set of statistics is published.

Harnessing drug and alcohol misuse statistics as an awareness tool

Workers spend many of their waking hours in the workplace. As such, employers are in a position to help those with drug and alcohol addiction issues and improve the wellbeing of their employees.

Workers recovering from drug and alcohol misuse need workplace support to prevent relapses. Avoiding the problems or simply administering one-off drug tests does not holistically address employee wellbeing.

A comprehensive drug and alcohol workplace programme incorporates the latest research and statistics. This keeps both employers and employees up to date with new initiatives and helps the business in making informed choices regarding the workplace drug tests.

Experts agree that the early identification of a drug or alcohol misuse problem increases the success of treatment interventions. Data and research inform employers of new trends and drugs surfacing on the market. This helps with the timely identification of symptoms and characteristics so that they can reach out to workers as soon as possible.

Public Health Scotland, for example, issues regular Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response (RADAR) reports to combat the country’s alarming drug death rate. Decreases or increases in this publication immediately show how effective certain measures are and where employers should alter their current alcohol and drug testing practices and awareness programmes.

Using statistics and research to motivate workplace testing programmes

Employers can use this data to motivate their workplace drug and alcohol testing programmes. They should, however, avoid using statistics as a ‘power strategy’ and rather focus on how this information can connect them with employees who need help and treatment.

For example, employers can arrange education sessions that coincide with testing days. They can facilitate this in groups or individually.

Similarly, a workplace drug and alcohol test should not be a witch-hunt tool, but rather a way to recognise a problem and offer the relevant assistance. Should an employee test positive for an illicit substance, an employer can support an offer of help with the latest information.

In general, employers can distribute alcohol and drug misuse research and statistics via newsletters or posters throughout a work environment to increase awareness. Matrix Diagnostics specialises in workplace drug and alcohol testing. Partner with us to streamline your strategies.

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