The specific recognition of alcohol consumption and drug use as a potential health and safety hazard means it must be managed just as you would manage any other workplace risk.

How do you identify drug and alcohol related issues?

Drugs work depending on how they are taken, where they are taken, and how many are taken. All drugs can have side effects, even legal drugs. For example, drunk people have taken too much alcohol. The alcohol has affected their ability to make choices, to keep their voices down, to think before they speak, and to walk properly. The intoxicated person may also want to have a fight, or to argue with other people.

Signs and symptoms

Both alcohol and drugs have hangover effects that can continue beyond consumption and drug use. It is important to note that other factors (such as fatigue) may also display hangover effects.

Signs and symptoms that may indicate a person is adversely affected by alcohol or drugs include:

  • stimulation
  • euphoria
  • loss of inhibition
  • impairment of co-ordination, judgement, intellectual capacity and ability to act quickly
  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • in some cases feelings of exhilaration, energy, increased mental alertness
  • lackadaisical, “I don’t care” attitude
  • delayed decision making
  • poor concentration
  • strong and severe mood swings
  • walking with a blank stare and disjoined walk (e.g. PCP)
  • dry mouth and throat
  • increased appetite
  • dulled reflexes
  • hangover-headache, shakiness, nausea and vomiting
  • chronic fatigue and lack of motivation
  • distinctive odours of substances used
  • impaired coordination, concentration, and memory
  • slowed speech
  • irritating cough, chronic sore throat
  • reddened eyes (often masked by eye drops and glasses)
  • impaired tracking and visual distance
  • distortions in time estimation
  • “bad trips”, unpleasant psychological reactions that may include panic, confusion suspicion, anxiety and loss of control
  • dilated/ constricted pupils depending on which drug they have used
  • needle marks or open body sores
  • tremors
  • physical and moral deterioration

Be mindful that these signs and symptoms could be as a result of some other mechanism other than drugs or alcohol. Signs and symptoms alone cannot confirm impairment related to alcohol and other drugs.