Saturday, September 26, 2015

Drugs and things

Recently the American Psychiatric association reported the results of a study indicating that nearly 1 in 10 full-time employees in the United States has a substance use disorder. Further, these pointed to challenges of heavy alcohol and illicit drug use facing the accommodation and food services sector. The construction industry is a close second.
The prevalence and patterns of substance use are strongly related to a range of factors – including age, sex, cultural background, and social-environmental context – and these patterns vary for different types of drugs. Population trends in substance use are monitored by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
According to The Australian Psychological Society the use of licit substances is the most prevalent type of substance use, and an accepted part of Australian and most other western societies. The vast majority of Australians use caffeine, through the consumption of tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate. The regular use of alcohol and tobacco by adults is acceptable to three out of four and two out of five Australians, respectively. Alcohol is consumed on a weekly basis by 41% of people aged 14 years and over and daily by 9%, and 17% use tobacco on a daily basis.
Some types of illicit substance use are also quite common. More than a third (38%) of the population has at some stage in their lifetime used a substance currently listed as illicit. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug, having been ‘ever used’ by more than 34% of the Australian population over their lifetime, and used within the last 12 months by almost 11%. 
The use of pain-killers/analgesics for non-medical purposes is reported by 6% of Australians. Almost 10% of people have ‘ever used’ amphetamines, and 8% have ‘ever used’ ecstasy. Each of these groups of substances has been used in the past 12 months by 3% of Australians.
And, again in the United States, some 9.5 percent of full-time workers were dependent on or abused alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year. A total of 8.7 percent of full-time workers reported heavy drinking (defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days over a 30-day period), and 8.6 percent reported illicit drug use in the past month.
The highest rates of past-month heavy alcohol use were found in employees of the mining (17.5 percent) and construction (16.5 percent) industries; the lowest rates were found in health care and social assistant workers (4.4 percent). The highest rates of past-month illicit drug use were found in accommodations and food service industry workers (19.1 percent); the lowest rates were found in public administration employees (4.3 percent). Accommodations and food service industry employees also had the highest rates of past-year abuse of any substance (16.9 percent); those in the educational services sector had the lowest (5.5 percent).
The use of illicit drugs increased from 16.9 percent in 2003-2007 to 19.1 percent in 2008-2012 among accommodations and food service industry workers. Construction workers, in contrast, experienced dips in workers’ past-month use of illicit drugs from 13.9 percent in 2003-2007 to 11.6 percent in 2008-2012.
Andrew Saxon, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington suggests this reflects a public health problem that is beyond the scope of anything psychiatrists can directly address in their day-to-day practices, however, psychiatrists can be (continue to be) alert for and comfortable with diagnosing and treating substance use problems in the patients that they do see since a large number of people with psychiatric disorders also have co-occurring substance use disorders.

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