Absenteeism and lost productivity from drugs and alcohol is costing the Australia $6 billion a year, says a new Australian Drugs Foundation report. The greatest loss comes from alcohol, with illicit drug use accounting for only a fraction of the figure.

A thousand employees across various industries subscribed to the survey. The results revealed: 100 of them had commenced work while still suffering the effects of drugs and/or alcohol; 70 admitted to being under the influence while working; and 60 had needed to be absent to recover from their substance abuse.

The Australian drug Foundation head of workplace services, Phillip Collins, called for government interjection to ‘educate’ employees on the effects of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. Mr Collins would not be drawn on the debate over mandatory drug testing in the workplace; only re-iterating the need for it in industries requiring the use of driving and heavy-machinery.

So of the thousand people surveyed one hundred admitted to doing their jobs while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in some way. If this figure can be extrapolated to the wider domestic community it would mean ten per cent of the Australian workforce is either absent or performing at sub-par levels because of recreational choices.

Head of workplace services at the Australian Drugs Foundation, Phillip Collins. Photo: qmeb.cm.au

Head of workplace services at the Australian Drugs Foundation, Phillip Collins. Photo: qmeb.cm.au

One wonders whether yet another ‘educational’ campaign would do anything to alter the attitudes of this segment of society. People who have suffered the after effect of a big night out have had all the education they need right there. Not only do they suffer the effects first-hand, but they realise the limitations those effects impose upon them. Sooner or later the consequences of those limitations come home to roost – and the ‘education’ is complete.

It is probably a moot point as to which ‘education’ is more costly – it depends upon the individual, the business, and a host of other – unrepeatable – circumstances. What is known is that the Australian workforce has already endured countless drug and alcohol educational campaigns, and 10% (apparently) continue to ignore it.

Perhaps it is time for another idea?

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