Who uses what: Polydrug use among construction workers and implications of intervention

Janine Chapman, Ann Roche, Ken Pidd, Brooke Ledner, Jim Finnane

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Introduction and Aims: The workplace is an important setting for alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevention efforts. Workers in the construction industry are at high-risk of AOD-related harms and occupational injury, yet little is known about current patterns of polydrug use. This paper presents the baseline findings from a longitudinal evaluation of a workplace AOD harm reduction program, delivered as part of a wider ‘fit-for-work’ approach in construction. Design and Methods: Workers (n=511) were recruited from sites across the Sydney metropolitan area and completed anonymous surveys assessing AOD use and perceptions of AOD-related risk. Analyses were conducted to determine the extent and nature of AOD and polydrug use by age group and compared with national data. Results: Sixty-nine percent used alcohol at risky levels, with highest prevalence among those aged ≤24 and 45-54 years (P <0.01). Yearly painkiller (37%), cannabis (21%), methamphetamine (6%) and cocaine (23%) use was significantly higher than national levels. Monthly cocaine use in combination with risky drinking was highest in young workers (17%) and monthly painkiller/risky alcohol use was highest in those aged 45-54 (22%) (P <0.01). Young workers were less likely to believe that AOD use posed a risk to workplace safety. Discussions and Conclusions: High levels of alcohol in combination with other drugs are of concern in older workers as well as those entering the workforce. High levels of cocaine use, in contrast to the recent methamphetamine focus, warrant attention. Multi-component interventions involving culture change, education and policy have potential to reach a substantial proportion of workers in construction and other comparable industries. Disclosure of Interest Statement: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDrug and Alcohol Review
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
    EventAustralasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs 2019 - Hobart, Australia
    Duration: 10 Nov 201913 Nov 2019


    ConferenceAustralasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs 2019
    Abbreviated titleAPSAD 2019
    Internet address


    • Drug use
    • COnstruction industry
    • alcohol and drugs


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