Background: To determine the prevalence of drug consumption and the impact of workplace demands and burdens for substance use, we conducted a survey in a representative sample of Tyrolean employees.
Methods: This analysis was restricted to the 700 respondents (395 male, 305 female; age 18-60 years) in the year 2001 by telephone interview who hold a full-time or part-time job during the 6 months preceding the interview. We studied the use of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, analgetics. stimulants and phytotherapeutics.
Results: Of the whole sample, 5.6% employees (4.8% male, 6.6% female) stated that they take some kind of pills to cope with job demands. There was no statistically significant difference between males and females. Substance use depended to a great extent on the work atmosphere and job satisfaction. The prevalence of drug consumption increased from 3.7% (good atmosphere at work) and 3.3% (high job satisfaction) to 12.6% (bad atmosphere at work) and 42.9% (low job satisfaction ) (p = 0.019 and p = 0.001). The feeling of being a victim of bullying at work appears to be particularly destructive for the individuals' well-being. Only 4.1% of the employees who were not victims of bullying took drugs because of job problems, as compared with 20% of the bullying victims.
Discussion: Our results indicate that drug consumption as the consequence of workplace burdens is a frequent and serious problem with negative consequences for the life quality of the individuals and for the individuals' efficiency. Therefore, occupational medicine and employers should direct their attention to ensure the best possible work place structure and occupational conditions.
Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.