The extent of problematic alcohol and other drug use within selected South African workplaces

  • NH Burnhams
  • S Dada
  • B Linda
  • B Myers
  • C Parry


Background. The use of alcohol and other drugs (AODs) in the workplace has a major impact on the health and productivity of the workforce globally. Yet information on this issue is limited in South Africa (SA).
Objective. To describe the nature and extent of AOD problems in selected workplace settings in SA.
Methods. Secondary data analysis was conducted on a large dataset compiled by an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service provider in SA. As part of an EAP risk audit, assessments for AOD-related problems were completed for each employee accessing EAP services (n=10 428) between 2005 and 2011. Data on the socio-demographic profiles, AOD use and impact of AOD use on the work performance of employees were analysed.
Results. Findings indicate that employed men are more likely to experience alcohol-related problems than women, the latter demonstrating a higher percentage of drug-related problems. The majority of referrals to the EAPs emanate from the public, industrial and financial sectors. AOD-related problems were also found to significantly impact on employee work performance.
Conclusions. The study begins to address the knowledge gap on the extent of AOD use in SA workplaces and points to the need for further investigations into the exact nature of AOD use. In addition, the study highlights the need for intervention programmes and policies suited to the workplace

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135