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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Substance Use in the Workplace: 18 – 25 year-olds

At the National Prevention Network Conference in Portland, Oregon September 16th – 19th, 2007, Shai Fuxman M.Ed., Courtney Pierce, MPH, and Lisa McGlinchy, MPH presented on substance use in the workplace focusing on 18 – 25 year-olds.

Alcohol prevalence rates steadily increase for the first three to five years after high school with 18 – 25 year-olds having the highest rate of binge drinking (42%). This age group is more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs and is characterized as being risk takers, resistant to authority, and vulnerable to cultural influences.

Prevention programs for this age group typically focus on college students. While college students do have a higher rate of binge drinking, young adults not in college are more likely to be using drugs and alcohol on a daily basis.

Targeting the workplace is one strategy for prevention. There are a variety of risk and protective factors in this setting. While workplace programs have the potential to improve worker health and productivity, the workplace can also be a source of stress, alienation, and cultural influence that can be a risk to the individual.

Three high risk occupations for alcohol and drug use are construction, food service, and trucking. Strategies for reducing drug and alcohol use in the workplace include changing norms, employee assistance programs, drug testing, workplace education, and workplace policies. More research needs to be done in this area to find strategies that work. Programs should include input from stakeholders such as industry leaders, human resource departments, unions, policymakers, and community coalitions.

For further information, please view this presentation in its entirety or CSAP's Drug-Free Workplace kit.

Thanks to the Health and Human Development Programs division of the Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts for this presentation.

By Desiree Reynolds,   10/15/2007