Breaking down the myths about workplace drug and alcohol management

Let’s debunk workplace drug and alcohol management myths, one untruth at a time! Credit Marek Studzinski

There are some people who think drug and alcohol management is only required for high-risk industries, implementing testing is too expensive, employees should be allowed to do what they want in their free time and that management of drugs should only focus on illegal substances.

So, what’s the truth? With well over 20 years’ experience in drug and alcohol management, Integrity Sampling has heard all the myths. While there will always be knockers – and therefore wild untruths – we’ll continue to debunk the myths and provide accurate information on what is a vital way to improve workplace safety.

9 workplace drug and alcohol management myths debunked:

Myth 1

With the possession, use and cultivation of cannabis in the ACT legalised and with other regions potentially following suit, employers won’t be able to enforce drug-free workplace policies.


Whether it’s legal to use or not, employees still have an obligation to attend work in a safe condition. This means employers will have the right to maintain drug-free workplace policies and enforce drug testing for cannabis, as well as other drugs that can affect a person’s ability to work safely.

Myth 2

Once a drug and alcohol policy is in place, there's no need for ongoing education and awareness efforts.


Continuous education and communication about the risks of substance abuse, the company's policies and available resources are crucial for maintaining a supportive and proactive workplace culture.

Myth 3

Drug and alcohol testing is too expensive and time-consuming for small businesses, so they shouldn’t include it in their drug and alcohol management plans.


While it’s not inexpensive to implement drug and alcohol testing, most businesses can afford it and there are cost-effective testing options available. It’s also worth remembering the potential cost of not implementing testing or managing drugs and alcohol. The potential cost to a business from a single accident involving drugs or alcohol would make testing costs pale into insignificance.

Myth 4

Workplace drug and alcohol management is only necessary for high-risk industries.


Substance abuse can impact any workplace, regardless of the industry and the level of safety risk. Implementing policies and procedures is essential for promoting safety and productivity across all sectors.

Myth 5

Alcohol is the only substance of concern in the workplace.


While alcohol is a significant concern, other substances, including prescription medications, illicit drugs and even some over-the-counter medications are just as worrying and need to be managed. These drugs can impair judgment and performance, posing risks to workplace safety.

Myth 6

Substance abuse is a personal issue that employers shouldn't get involved in.


Substance abuse in the workplace affects not only the individual but also colleagues, customers and the organisation as a whole. Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe work environment and address issues that may compromise safety and productivity.

Myth 7

An employee who tests positive for drugs or alcohol should be immediately terminated.


While termination could be a consequence for high-risk industries, for most workplaces consequences aren’t as significant. Most workplace drug and alcohol management plans will offer support and rehabilitation for employees. Termination is often a last resort when counselling and intervention efforts have been exhausted.

Myth 8

Random drug testing is ineffective and only creates a climate of distrust among employees.


Random drug testing acts as a deterrent and helps identify substance abuse issues before they escalate. When implemented transparently and fairly, it fosters a culture of safety and accountability and in most workplaces employees will welcome it.

Myth 9

Developing a workplace drug and alcohol management plan is costly and time-consuming.


While there may be initial costs associated with developing and implementing a policy, the long-term benefits, including reduced absenteeism, fewer accidents and improved productivity, usually outweigh the costs. Additionally, many resources and support services are available to assist employers in creating effective policies.

Get help with your drug and alcohol management plan

It is understandable that some workplaces struggle with drug and alcohol management because they lack guidance on where to begin. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of developing policies, procedures and implementing testing.

However, assistance is available.

Integrity Sampling offers comprehensive support for drug and alcohol management, covering:

  • Policy and procedure development
  • Workforce education
  • Drug testing
  • Alcohol testing

Reach out to us today to safeguard your business and employees against the risks associated with substance abuse.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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