Substance use in the Australian workforce: findings from two national surveys

Peter Gates*, Rachel Grove, Jan Copeland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Understanding the patterns of workforce substance use is crucial for workplace and public health policy and practice. This paper provides an investigation of substance use in the Australian workforce by examining data from the 2007 and 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. It was revealed that while illicit drug use increased and alcohol use decreased significantly across surveys among the population, these differences were not statistically significant among those in the workforce. Notably, compared to those not in the workforce, the finding of a consistently greater prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use amongst the workforce remained and was particularly prevalent among males and young females. Further, when controlling for age and gender, substance use prevalence and frequency were particularly high among those in the construction industries and low among those in education and training industries and among professional occupations (with the exception of alcohol use). Tradespersons also reported a high prevalence and frequency of substance use; however, this was explained by the worker's age and gender. Public health initiatives targeting substance-related problems in the workforce will benefit by focusing on particular workplaces as well as specific age and gender groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Pages (from-to)83-102
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Health, Safety and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • workforce
  • employee
  • alcohol
  • cannabis
  • marijuana
  • illicit drugs


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