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Facts & Figures

Use of alcohol and drugs among health professionals in Norway

Alcohol and drug use may both have acute and long term consequences for the workplace. It is well known that such use and/or hangover effects may cause an increased risk for accidents, faults, inefficiency, and absence from work, all undesired effects.

Health professionals (HPs) are employees that have easy access to medicines at work, and the consequences of abuse may affect both themselves and patients. The psychoactive effects of drugs may be caused by an acute pharmacological effect or hangover effect that influences the performance of the user even though the active compounds are cleared from the brain. Therefore, the effects of drugs and alcohol may reduce the effectiveness at work for many hours after drug intake. In addition, dependence may cause a sense of craving which may result in HPs being unfocused at work.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s study had three goals: to analyze samples of oral fluid and self-reported data from questionnaires to investigate the prevalence of alcohol and drugs among a sample of HPs in Norway, to study self-reported absence from or impairment at work due to alcohol and/or drug use, and to examine whether such use and absence/impairment due to such use depend on socio-demographic variables.

The results from this study showed that this sample of HPs seldom used illicit drugs, few had a high level of alcohol consumption, and few tested positive for medicinal drugs. Alcohol and illicit drug use was lower than found in a previous pilot study of employees, which did not include HPs. Our findings in OF samples and from questionnaires suggest that the prevalence of problems is less frequent among HPs in Norway than in some other countries.

Source: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology