Pubdate: Sat, 17 Nov 2007
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Calgary Sun
Author: Bill Kaufmann, Sun Media
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Number Of Stressed, Affluent Albertans Abusing Drug In Workplace 
Continues To Rise

Prosperous, stressed-out Albertans are increasingly abusing cocaine 
in the workplace, says an official with the province's drug abuse agency.

As the percentage of its clientele struggling with cocaine continues 
to rise, Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) prevention 
consultant Ron Beach said the drug's impact at the workplace has also worsened.

"Circumstances are ripe when you have affluence, shift work, people 
working alone or far from home," said Beach, adding there's been an 
increase in the number of employers seeking AADAC's help in dealing 
with cocaine.

"We've been more active in the workplace than we ever have in terms 
of training and supervisors." The construction industry, said Beach, 
was one of the sectors suffering the most from workplace substance abuse.

The share of AADAC's cocaine clientele across the province in 2006-07 
was 33% compared to 29% in 2004-05.

The number in Calgary has reached 32% -- a number 4% higher than two years ago.

Cocaine offences in Alberta rose 12% last year, while those involving 
other drugs dropped, states a provincial crime task force.

Beach said workplace substance abuse problems that include cocaine 
have provoked a welcome wakeup among employers who have become more 
pro-active in combating it.

"They're saying 'how can we support our employees to not only be in 
compliance with policy, but also about making healthy choices?' " he said.

"They're looking at the big picture, as in 'how do we get our people 
to not test positive?' "

Safety and productivity concerns tied to drug use and gambling are 
massive in Alberta, costing $4.4 billion in lost efficiency and 
social costs, said Beach. Even so, he said alcohol remains by far 
Alberta's biggest substance abuse problem.
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