The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to threaten the health and well-being of people around the world. In Australia, the virus has infected more than 8,000 people and killed over 100 since it broke out in January. This caused major disruptions to the economy in the form of limited manpower and slower production rates.
But the coronavirus epidemic may also be impacting Australians in another way. With the public health crisis, it’s easy to forget the ongoing drug and alcohol problem in the country. The issue is still there, and it’s still putting people’s lives in danger.
Workplace Deaths and Injuries during COVID-19 Epidemic
The current COVID-19 epidemic has placed a significant stress on the community and the economy. To avoid catching the deadly coronavirus, some people stopped going to work. This forced companies to adjust their production schedules and targets.
Despite this, the number of workers dying or getting seriously injured has remained pretty much the same. Seventy-six Australians died while at work, as of 21 May 2020. Meanwhile, 80 lost their lives while working over the same period last year.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Between 2018 and 2019, more than 157,000 Australians sought and received treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. This is considered a significantly high number given that society and the economy were not dealing with a coronavirus outbreak.
More than a third (36%) of people sought treatment for alcohol abuse. However, a disturbing 28% also sought treatment for amphetamine abuse compared to only 5% who sought relief for heroin addiction.
Treatment episodes for amphetamine-type drug abuse increased six-fold. From a low of 10,000 episodes, it ballooned to 58,200 over the last decade. Two-thirds of cases involved methamphetamine abuse.
By comparison, treatment episodes involving heroin abuse fell 21.2% during the same period.
Male patients comprised nearly two-thirds of patients seeking counselling for meth use. The average age of clients was 34 years.
These suggest that Australia was already dealing with a significant meth problem even before 2020. The situation is further worsened by a sustained major rise in alcohol consumption and purchase since May 2020.
CommSec recorded a 25% increase in alcohol sale from bottle shops over the previous six weeks. Meanwhile, a majority (70%) of Australians admitted to drinking more alcohol than they had before. This was based on a March 2020 poll by a FARE Australia.
Australia relies on foreign sources for heroin. However, we make our own Methamphetamine. This has contributed to the upward trend in meth usage rates this year. This proves that the drug problem is only going to grow.
For comprehensive drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, contact SafeWork Laboratories today on