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Drug Use in the Workplace

Drug Use in the Workplace

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Drug Use in the Workplace

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  1. Drug Use in the Workplace Lecture 7

  2. What to Expect in This Lecture • Nature and Prevalence of Drug Use in the Workplace • Work Conditions and Drug Use • Occupational Contexts of Drug Use: Four Case Studies • Medical Profession • Military • Sports • Law Enforcement • Societal Reaction to Drug Use in the Workplace

  3. Nature and Prevalence of Drug Use in the Workplace • Data for drug use in the workplace comes from the National Household Survey • Asks questions on employment status • Occupational sectors in which workers are employed • Common perception of drug use (especially illicit drug use) is the street user: • Criminal • Homeless • Without legitimate employment • Reality is that most drug users are employed:

  4. Percent of 1997 Alcohol and Drug Users Employed: Full Time Part Time Unemployed

  5. Percent of Labor Force Aged 18-49 Currently Involved in: Illicit Drug Use Heavy Alcohol Use

  6. Work Conditions and Drug Use • Researchers generally distinguish between workplace characteristics and workforce characteristics • Workplace characteristics refer to factors such as • size of workplace • levels of workplace stress • supervisor support • type of occupation • Workforce characteristics refer to features of individuals comprising the workforce, including: • marital status • previous criminal/delinquent involvement • education • race/ethnicity

  7. Workplace Characteristics and Drug Use • Size of workplace • Generally, the smaller the workplace, the greater likelihood of illicit drug use • Trend is almost reversed for heavy alcohol use • Occupation type • Food preparation industry has highest levels of drug and alcohol use • Blue collar workers tend to have higher rates than white collar workers • Other workplace factors related include: • Levels of job satisfaction • Levels of job stress • Alienation and sense of powerlessness • Culture tolerant of drug/alcohol use

  8. Workforce Characteristics and Drug Use • Prior involvement in drug use and/or delinquency is highly related to drug use in workplace • Demographics of workforce characteristics • Younger workers more likely to use drugs • Males more likely to use than females • Whites more likely to use than minorities • These demographics tend to reflect the demographics of drug use generally

  9. Occupational Contexts of Drug Use:Medical Profession • Why the medical profession is an important context to understand drug use • Ready availability of drugs to medical personnel • Potentially catastrophic consequences of drug use • Occupational categories in medicine that have been studied: • Physicians • Dentists • Nurses • Veterinarians • Pharmacists • Medical/Nursing Students • How medical personnel obtain drugs: • Stealing from hospital pharmacies • Falsely prescribing drugs from patients and diverting • Diverting drugs legitimately prescribed to patients • Appealing to pharmacists for “emergency” drugs

  10. Patterns of Drug Use Among Medical Personnel • Early studies (1960-1970) • Reported excessively high rates of use and addiction—about 1 addict for every 100 physicians • Most physician drug use was for self-medication • Typically involved the use of narcotics and depressants • Studies of medical students during this period revealed heavy use of stimulants • Second wave research (1970-1990) • Revealed greater levels of recreational drug use • Marijuana was used in greater levels by both physicians and students • Third wave research (1990-present) • Suggesting much lower prevalence among physicians • Nurses more likely to use alcohol and illicit drugs than physicians • Differences across medical specialties:

  11. Explaining Drug Use by Medical Personnel • Explanations are based on the premise that medical personnel have higher than normal rates of drug use (called into question in last 10 years) • Two complementary explanations: • Stress Hypothesis • Availability Hypothesis

  12. Occupational Contexts of Drug Use:The Military • Tobacco and alcohol use have always been a part of military culture • The military did not take much note of illicit drug use until the Vietnam War • Since Vietnam, military has aggressively addressed illicit drug use, primarily through drug testing

  13. Patterns of Drug Use in the Military • Evidence suggests that drug testing has been effective • Variation across the 4 branches • Explanations for levels of drug use in military • Drug use should be higher because of stress levels • Drug use should be lower because of zero tolerance policies

  14. Occupational Contexts of Drug Use:“Doping” in Sports • “Doping” refers to use of drugs by athletes to improve athletic performance • Types of drugs by athletes: • Restorative drugs—used to facilitate healing from injuries or reduce pain from injuries • Additive drugs (ergogenic aids)—used to enhance athletic performance • Recreational drugs

  15. Drug Policy in Sports • Major differences between professional and amateur sports • Professional Sports • Comparatively few regulations because of lobbying of players unions • Patchwork of rules which are governed by each sport • Most drug bans are street recreational drugs • Primary reason for these bans is to insure a positive image and role model • Rather than being banned from sports, most violators are provided help through EAPs • Amateur Sports • Policy governed by two bodies: NCAA and IOC • These organizations list numerous banned drugs applicable to all sports under their jurisdiction • Purpose of these rules is to provide a level playing field and provide fairness in competition

  16. Occupational Contexts of Drug Use:Law Enforcement • By most estimates, law enforcement has significantly higher rates of alcoholism than the general population • Factors accounting for these rates: • Stress • Occupational subculture

  17. Societal Reaction to Drug Use in the Workplace • Pre-1970 • Drug and alcohol use often ignored • Any attention was usually punitive • Current response: • Drug Testing • Employee Assistance Programs