COVID-19 | Dr John Edwards, Drug and Alcohol Testing Toxicology Update
This is a time of great social anxiety and fear. Being in a confined environment, being under stress and maybe having concerns around one’s future, financials, security or work — these are all factors that pose considerable risk for vulnerable people.
As a result, we can expect a significant increase in the rate of drug and alcohol misuse in worker populations. This poses a significant risk to businesses.
Without a strong testing program, there is little deterrent to those who misuse drugs or alcohol.
Currently there are three situations facing employers:
- We’re continuing our program – what are the risks?
- We’ve suspended our testing program – what other options are there?
- We’re about to re-commence our program after a shutdown – what should we do?
A CONTINUING PROGRAM
- AusHealth can advise on appropriate testing procedures to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission during testing sessions. This provides for the best protection of both workers and Collectors.
- Drug testing data will be collated to allow visualisation of any trends that occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A SUSPENDED PROGRAM
- AusHealth can provide advice and assistance to review existing workplace drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures to ensure that testing remains fair and objective and provides businesses with data to support their testing program.
- AusHealth can provide assistance to implement alternative testing protocols that can be applied to work-from-home or isolated working environments. e.g. use of personal breath test devices
A RE-COMMENCING PROGRAM
AusHealth can advise on recommencement of testing procedures, including numbers of random tests per workplace population.
AusHealth can recommend new testing opportunities, such as:
- Hair testing for drugs, allowing a longer detection window to identify drug use during suspension periods upon program recommencement.
- Targeted oral fluid or urine drug tests based on either workplace intelligence or results of other tests (e.g. hair).
- Policy revisions to facilitate modified procedures.
Further toxicology and policy advice is available from our Senior Toxicologist, Dr John Edwards who can be contacted on 1800 633 838 or contact us and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Further Reading & Sources
- Frone, M.R. 2008. Are Work Stressors Related to Employee Substance Use? The Importance of Temporal Context in Assessments of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use. Journal of Applied Psychology. 93 (1):199–206.
- Sinha, R. 2008. Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1141:105–130.
- Hassanbeigi. A. Askari, J. Hassanbeigi, D. Pourmovahed, Z. 2013. The relationship between stress and addiction. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 84:1333 – 1340.
*7NEWS Adelaide, April 16. Alcohol sales have skyrocketed (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=222200825707582)