HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Industries dealing with substance usage: How can employers support staff

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read

Substance use, such as alcohol and other drugs (AOD), is prevalent in many industries. However, some are affected more than others.

Research from Hope in Health outlined the industries that are most common for AOD usage, and strategies leaders can implement to help employees who may be struggling.

According to the Industry AOD Insights Pack, high rates of substance use create problems such as employees taking more time off, a negative image for the organisation, and more incidents in the workplace.


Working conditions were reported to be a key factor in high AOD usage, as poor mental health coincides with substance abuse. Long work hours, stress, and low wages were three of the top AOD rate influences.

According to Hope in Health, the hospitality industry was the most likely to have AOD issues, with 16.9 per cent of workers abusing substances.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma were also highlighted as key factors in substance abuse. According to Hope in Health, first responders are twice as likely to develop PTSD than other workers. In the entertainment industry, suicide is twice as common than the general population, and suicide planning is four times greater.

Studies show that ADF veterans have a greater chance of developing alcohol abuse issues, showing a link between PTSD and trauma and AOD usage.

As highlighted by Hope in Health, different industries show there are varied contributions to AOD issues. Some of the recurring themes seem to be stress, burnout, dissatisfaction, low wages, and fatigue.

Industry AOD Insights Pack discussed some strategies that can support employee wellbeing and hopefully reduce AOD abuse.

Some of these initiatives are:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Reduced working hours
  • More attention to mental health
  • Wellbeing education
  • Elimination of psychological hazards

While implementing strategies like this could be costly or temporarily reduce productivity, in the long run, it will promote wellbeing in the workplace and create happier and healthier employees. A happy worker is a better worker, and the results will be felt business-wide.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.