Why promote harm minimisation from alcohol and other drugs (AoD) in the workplace?

National data indicates that a large proportion of the employed New Zealand population are drinking at dangerous levels and/or taking illicit drugs (Ministry of Health, 2010). It is increasingly apparent that the harmful effects of alcohol and other drug use extend to the workplace. This substance abuse can not only influence the health, safety and well-being of individual workers, but also the productivity, safety and well-being of the workplace in general.  

Research highlights harmful alcohol consumption is a serious issue within NZ workplaces. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Almost 48% of all those in full-time employment in New Zealand are binge drinkers.
  • Blue-collar workers are more likely to frequently drink at hazardous levels and have higher rates of illicit drug use, compared to white-collar and professionals.
  • Maori men have hazardous drinking patterns which are 1.5 times the prevalence of European men and other ethnic groups and
  • Maori and Pacific women have almost twice the level of hazardous drinking compared to European women and other ethnic groups. 

Ministry of Health, Alcohol Use in New Zealand Analysis of the 2004 New Zealand Health Behaviours survey - Alcohol Use, 2007

 Below are some suggestions of activities that you could do in your workplace:

 1.  Evidence-based activities for AoD harm reduction.

  • develop interventions delivered as part of an overall AoD workplace policy (see resources)
  • deliver AoD programme as part of an overall broader health based programme
  • use Employee Assistance Programme or other support services

 2. Support responsible drinking and drug free behaviours:

  • become an Alcohol and Drug free premises
  • make all work functions on and off-site alcohol free
  • change the culture and swap Friday after work drinks for a healthier option e.g. ten pin bowling or indoor netball

  3. Provide education and training programmes on responsible drinking and drug free behaviours:

  • peer intervention processes / early or brief intervention
  • promote AoD specific support services e.g. Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
  • organise a workshop or seminar to increase alcohol and other drug awareness

  4. Provide information and promote AoD events:

  • engage in the AoD health campaigns
  • participate in Dry July and FebFast
  • provide information and increase awareness of low-risk drinking (including self-help materials)
  • sign-up for the ALAC monthly newsletters and bi-yearly magazine for the staff tea room

For more information have a look at our alcohol and other drug resources or website links