Drugs and your skills

While many people may complain that workplace drug restrictions or testing hamper weekend fun and get in the way of a good time, these measures are put in place to ensure everyone gets to go home safely at the end of every day. 

Drugs such as cannabis can have a significant effect on work skills and in turn safety even if you think your work is up to its normal standard. In addition to this, cannabis is also linked with long-term health risks, such as development of mental and respiratory illnesses.

Prolonged and heavy cannabis use can have an impact on memory and motivation, and may be an indication of addiction.

In a survey of 500 tradies:
30% say weed has a significant effect on work skills
21% used cannabis 4 hours before work
19% used at work
63% know someone who has failed a workplace drug test

NCPIC survey 2014

How does cannabis work?

Cannabis is a plant-based drug that comes from the cannabis sativa plant, and is often known as marijuana , pot , gunja or weed among other names.

The main active ingredient in cannabis is THC. It is the part of the plant that gives users a feeling of being high . Cannabis is usually used in one of three forms marijuana (which is the dried flowers and leaves on the plant), hashish (which is made from the resin), or hash oil. Using oils or butters in baked goods is getting more common these days.

THC is quite a potent chemical and can reach the brain very quickly after being inhaled.

While the explanation of what it does once there can be quite complex, in simple terms, it mimics the actions of a cannabinoid that our bodies naturally produce, overwhelming some important systems in our brains and throwing them off balance.

These affected systems control functions like motor coordination and balance, learning new information, complex thinking and movement, motivation, emotions, and memory.

While the high feeling can be mellow and relaxing, the effects on these systems can also mean cannabis use may produce paranoia, anxiety and even hallucinations. Just because a user is in the workplace, doesn t mean they are exempt from greening out. This act of overwhelming our systems, can also lead to a combination of the negative effects mentioned, as well as nausea and vomiting.

The bottom line is, cannabis doesn’t work at work!

How does cannabis affect my work skills?

Knowing how cannabis works and what parts of the brain it affects, it s obvious it s not a drug that belongs in the workplace. Some of the impacts it has on work skills include:

  • short-term memory problems
  • impaired thinking and focus
  • loss of balance and coordination
  • changes in sensory perception
  • impaired ability to perform complex tasks
  • decreased alertness
  • decreased reaction time

These effects can last up to six hours and can significantly endanger the user or other people around them. Longer-term and heavier users might also feel a loss of energy and interest in what they’re doing and can have difficulty learning new skills.

How can I quit?

If you’re using cannabis and finding it difficult to quit, the first thing to remember is that use at work may not just mean you lose your job, but could mean you lose a mate. If you want information, advice or help quitting, call the cannabis information and helpline on 1800 30 40 50.