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drug and alcohol use in the workplace

Alcohol is a big part of Australian society. Unfortunately alcohol abuse is a common problem. 

We are also seeing a very worrying use of other illicit substances including methamphetamines, marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids. 

Alcohol and drug affected workers are a risk to themselves and others. Click on this link to read more about our alcohol and drug tests.

Our WORKWELL team of psychiatrist, GPs and psychologists offer counselling and support for individuals affected by alcohol and drug abuse, and their families. We have a full range of EAP counselling services. 

There is a wide range of clinical presentations around misuse of alcohol and drugs. Many individuals use substances to 'self medicate' when they are experiencing emotional distress. The International Guide "The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders" describes the full gamut of conditions.

Acute alcohol or drug intoxication causes disinhibition, and loss of judgement.  This may represent an isolated incident, and be a warning sign of underlying psychological problems or stressors.

Harmful use is a pattern of using psychoactive substances that causes damage to one's health. The damage maybe physical (such as liver damage), mental (causing secondary depression as a side effect of the substance) and commonly affects one's social life as well.

Dependence syndrome is a cluster of physiological 'drive' causing desire for the substance, and the individual finds it hard to resist the behaviour of continuing to use the substance.  Obtaining the substance takes on a high priority for the person, which may be to the detriment of their social situation. 

Recognising that one has a problem is the first step in being able to get help.

Our team can help provide motivational counselling to help a person overcome substance misuse. Sometimes an admission to hospital may be required; we work with other providers who can offer inpatient mental health services. This is to ensure a medically supervised withdrawal program is in place.

However, many patients are well managed in the outpatient setting, with a caring health professional. This includes withdrawal from alcohol, opiates, marijuana and amphetamines.

The WORKWELL team are gaining experience using medications to reduce cravings for alcohol. The use of baclofen is a recognised and exciting new program, developed by Royal Perth Hospital:

https://baclofentreatment.com/

Baclofen appears to reduce stimulant craving in some individuals and we are hopeful that it may be developed to treat other drug addiction problems as well. 

We can offer rehabilitation advice and ongoing support to help a worker return to employment, with as little disruption as possible.