Hospitality and blue-collar workers most likely to misuse prescription drugs

A study by Curtin University in WA has found that hospitality workers are at a high risk of abusing over-the-counter and prescription medication.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare conducts an Australia-wide survey every three years. The survey measures the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco in Australia.

The Curtin University study analysed data from this survey from the last decade, looking at which industries and sectors have a greater prevalence of using medication for non-medical purposes. The study looked at data from around 70,000 participants, aged 20-65.

3.7 percent of respondents reported using pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes. Blue collar employees are significantly more likely to misuse prescription drugs that white-collar workers.

Professor Mark Harris, from Curtin University's department of economics and property, had a caveat: "All of this data is self-reported though, so if anything we'd actually suspect those rates would be underestimated because quite a few people who had done it would not want to admit it."

Which means the figures could be much higher.

The report says that workplace drug testing could aid in addressing the problem. However a drug test will only show drugs in a person's system. It does not provide information as to whether the medication has been used legitimately.

A clear alcohol and other drugs policy is needed if fairness and respect for worker's privacy is to be maintained.

Read more on the study here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-19/hospitality-workers-most-likely-to-misuse-prescription-drugs/6865480

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