Drug and Alcohol Policy in the workplace Essay Example

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The Australian Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy

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15/07/ 2011


Alcohol is one drink that has a high level of popularity as well as consumption in Australia. In addition to alcohol, there are other drugs such as tobacco that are legally acceptable in Australia. Hence, a person chooses whether to consume these two drugs or not. On the hand, though alcohol and tobacco are legally acceptable, there is a restriction in their consumption within workplaces. However, excess consumption of alcohol is not culturally acceptable in Australia (Durrant and Thakker 2003).

People can consume alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in their private lives but they should be cautious on reporting to their occupational areas while affected by the drugs. This is because the effect poses a risk to the functionality and performance level and this becomes a great concern to the employer of such drugs affected persons. Therefore, in order to have a clear cut way concerning this issue, there was need to develop relevant policy with regards to workplace though the policy addresses other areas too.

The Background and Context of the Alcohol and other Drugs Policy

Employers should have a reasonable duty of safety and health care towards their employees in workplace. In Australia this is stipulated in the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (Creighton and Rozen 2007). There was a need to include the Alcohol and other Drugs policy in the workplace’s occupational health, safety and welfare policies. It is important to note that work, alcohol and other drugs cannot be combined together since they affect adversely the effectiveness of those employees intoxicated with them. There were various legislations that were utilized in the development of the Alcohol and other Drugs Policy. These include: Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, 1985, Industrial Relations Act, 1996, NSW and Responsible Service Alcohol among others. The context of the policy integrates provision of a safer workplace, improved, training regarding the policy and the treatment for the affected persons. The aim of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy is to ensure a healthy and safe workplace which can be achieved by making the policy a workplace’s occupational health and safety strategy (APA 2002).

How the Alcohol and Other Drugs was formulated

In the first instance, the formulation of the policy started with developing guidelines for both employees and supervisors on the way forward to the development and implementation of the policy. In addition, there was the establishment of an awareness and education program for all employees concerning their responsibilities. In relation to this, employees were educated on their rights and duty towards the policy as well as penalties and fines that will be as a result of non-compliance. It was emphasized that it is the employers’ role to ensure safety of the employees (Koreneff 2005). During the formulation, the administration seeked to identify ant cultural and other stressful factors which could lead to the consumption (excessive) of the drugs and how to minimize or eradicate this consumption within workplace. On the other hand, when it comes to formulation, it is important to be aware that organizations are different and hence, approach to a policy formulation may as well differ.

Those involved in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy

There were two major bodies that were involved in the development, formulation, supervision and implementation of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy in Australia. These were: The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) and the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD). ADCA and ANCD are national bodies that act as advisory bodies to the Government on issues and programs related to drugs. Fitzgerald (2006 p192) claims that ANCD is the “peak, national, non-government organization representing the interests of the Australian Alcohol and other drugs sector.” The team involved to form ADCA was the strategic communications and policy team. On the other hand, the ANCD team comprised of leading experts and representatives from the non-governmental sector, treatment agencies, law enforcers, research institute, schools and other interest groups among others. Each of these had a specific role to play in the whole process of the policy development and enactment (ANCD 2002).

Dissemination of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy

The policy dissemination was conducted by the two major bodies discussed above, that is, ADCA and ANCD. ADCA distributed the information contained in the policy to groups and individuals concerned with prevention, early intervention, treatment and research among others with regards to drugs (ADCA 2003). ADCA developed timely and constructive evidence-based policies and made them available to policy markers and parliamentary committees, politicians and advisors. ADCA as well participated on government advisory groups and made use of the media to air issues of interests in the policy to the members of public. On the other hand, ANCD held forums in major centers such as capital cities and major metropolitan areas such as Cairns where they would educate the gathering about the policy. ANCD also held forums in schools and in health centers as the main locations where individuals using drugs can be found. Chadha and Kant (2008 p88) adds that dissemination of policies is quite pivotal

Has the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy been effective

In one way or the other the policy has been effective in workplaces as well as in other areas such as in the family though recently there were concerns that current strategies for addressing to alcohol and other drugs issue may be ineffective (Barclay 2007). In the workplace, the policy has been capable of reducing the number of cases related to drug consumption. This has been principally contributed by the penalties and fines that come with failure to comply with the policy stipulations. The policy has been effective in research done on drugs. This is because the research has been capable of identifying factors associated with drug consumption such as the causes, impacts and treatment. Furthermore, the policy has achieved government support thus it is affirmed as a national concern.

Recommendation in order for the policy to be more effective

In order for the policy to be effective, the employers should integrate it as among their institutional or organizational policies as well as directives and guidelines to employees. They should make it available to the new recruits. Moreover, continued training on the new developments of the policy should be made to all employees.


The Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy is of great significance in any organization. Thus, it is necessary for organizations to implement one. Both the employees and their employers should be aware of their rights and duties as well as of their liabilities and obligations to non-compliance with the policy. Nevertheless, it should be a prerequisite for every employer and employees should be deterred from excessive drug consumption (Tooma 2008).


Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) 2003, Policy Positions of the Alcohol

and Other Drugs Council of Australia, ADCA, Australia.

American Psychological Association (APA) 2002, Psychological Abstracts, Vol 89, p 21.

Australian National Council of Drugs (ANCD) 2002, Policy Formulation, ANCD, Australia.

Barclay, E 2003, Crime in Rural Australia, Federation Press, United States.

Chadha, R & Kant, L 2008, Policy-Driven Mobile Ad Hoc Network Management, Wiley-IEEE.

Creighton, B & Rozen, P 2007, Occupational Health and Safety Law in Victoria,

Federation Press, Australia.

Durrant, R & Thakker, J 2003, Substance Use and Abuse: Cultural and Historical Perspectives,

SAGE, New Delhi, India.

Fitzgerald, J 2006, Lobbying in Australia: You Can’t Expect Anything to Change if you don’t

Speak up, Rosenberg Publishing, Melbourne.

Koreneff, I 2005, Information Technology, Pascal Press, Australia.

Tooma, M 2008, Safety, Security, Health and Environmental Law, Federation Press, Australia.