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Australia's Hospitality Workers Most Likely To Abuse Prescription Drugs

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Curtin University' Mark Harris said 3.7 percent of the study's participants said they had abused prescription drug for purposes other than prescribed. The abuse of these medications has led many to addiction and even death. "The key finding was that workers in hospitality were more likely to misuse pharmaceutical drugs," he said. "We also found blue collar workers, so your laborers and construction workers et cetera, were much more likely to misuse these drugs than white collar workers."

Focusing on 70,000 working Australians between the ages 20-65 over the past decade, Curtin University was able to create some interesting statistics. But even Harris had some doubts about the numbers entirely. He explained that since the numbers are self-reported, the true drug abuse statistics could be much, much higher.

An addiction medicine doctor, Phillip Crowley, who read the report agrees. "I think it's really under-reported, under-estimated and under-treated," he said. "Prescription and over-the-counter drug use is really replacing illicit drugs in many ways. "It may be that hospitality workers are more likely to admit to it because they don't think they're at risk of a regulatory response."

The study has suggested that conducting on job urinalysis (and drug testing) will help keep the abuse down. Figuring out a smart and effective way to deal with positive tests is also important. Some will believe that a zero tolerance approach would work well but other believe that letting go of good employees who have a problem with substance abuse is the wrong approach. It would be better to provide the good employees with rehabilitation treatment and keep them in the company. It is found that people with high stress, more responsibility and authority were directly associated with more misuse of prescription drugs.

It is important to note that illegal drugs are also abused in the hospitality workforce and with recent data obtained by the National Drug Strategy Household Survey exposing that trade workers and employees in the industry are the highest abusers of methamphetamine in the Australian workforce. The data revealed that around 230,000 people had used methamphetamine at least once in the last 12 months which equates to about 2.3% of the workforce.

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