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HR managers, administrators trained on alcoholism,drug abuse

County Government of Nakuru Human Resource Managers and Administrators have received training on how to detect and handle employees battling drug addiction and alcoholism as part of an initiative aimed at improving service delivery.

The devolved unit’s administration indicated that the training was being conducted in line with its service charter, which requires efficiency and effectiveness at the workplace.

“One of the indicators of performance is the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse. The training on prevention of alcohol and drug abuse aims at reducing the impact of drugs and substance abuse at the workplace,” stated Chief Officer in Charge of Training and Devolution Dr. Charles Koech.

He disclosed that the training is crafted to equip HR Managers and Administrators with the skills to design evidence-based strategies for addressing the challenges of alcohol and drug abuse at the workplace for the purpose of supporting employees and their families.

Initiatives to reduce alcohol and drug abuse have become popular in workplaces worldwide as employers seek to boost productivity by lowering the chances of accidents at work and interference with how much work is done.

Dr. Koech indicated that some employees who present with alcohol abuse are judged as having a discipline issue, yet they could be dealing with a deeper problem.

“In some instances, the behaviour of an employee who abuses drugs or is hooked to alcohol is influenced by external factors that are reflected at the workplace. A good employer should not be quick to condemn, he should provide a listening ear and if necessary, encourage the employee to seek professional assistance,” he said.

In a February 10 report compiled by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) and presented to the Council of Governors (CoG) titled ‘Status of Drugs and Substance Abuse in Kenya,” the state agency raised concern over alcohol and drug abuse at the workplace, calling on relevant agencies to pay attention to the issue as it negatively impacts productivity and health.

The NACADA report disclosed that the online sale of alcohol has complicated the war on drug abuse, especially among youth.

In Kenya, alcohol was found to be the most abused drug, with 3,199,119 of the population affected, followed by tobacco and khat at 2,305,929 and 964,737 affected people, respectively.

Dr. Koech was accompanied by NACADA South Rift Manager Mr Robert Olwei, Special Programs Officer Ms. Teresa Nyatich, and Director in Charge of Human Resources Jane Wakanyi.

While indicating that Governor Susan Kihika’s administration was committed to retaining active human capital capable of serving the public professionally and efficiently, Koech said the training aims at providing employees with substance addiction with alternative people to speak to and where they are assured of confidentiality so that they get well. 

Wakanyi observed that drug and alcohol abuse often have poor outcomes for both individuals and organizations.

According to Wakanyi, alcohol abuse is usually a symptom of underlying issues, which should be identified and dealt with.

She added, “Promoting a culture where staff and employers discuss alcoholism and drug abuse can go a long way in reducing stigma. Training managers on how to recognize signs of drug abuse can lead to counseling and rehabilitation of affected individuals, eventually translating into increased productivity and a decrease in hospital bills.”

According to a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), programmes to address the problem of substance abuse by workers have traditionally focused on the identification and rehabilitation of workers with severe alcohol and, more recently, drug abuse problems.

ILO states that, however, as understanding of the sheer scope, nature, and costs of the problem has deepened, more progressive enterprises, organizations, and countries have placed a much greater emphasis on the development of broad consensual partnerships at the workplace and beyond designed to achieve a real improvement in the situation.

“Based on an increasingly widespread recognition of this successful experience with a consensual approach, the ILO adopted in 1995 its Code of Practice on the Management of Alcohol- and Drug-Related Issues in the Workplace,” the report reads in part.

It goes on, “It is also very difficult in some wine- and beer-producing countries to dissuade workers, even in such inherently hazardous industries as transport and construction, from drinking wine or beer with their lunch.”

ILO notes in some countries, there is a long tradition of social partners joining with other actors to develop joint drug and alcohol abuse prevention initiatives, emphasizing the benefits to workers, their families, employers, and the economy of preventing addiction to drugs and alcohol.

The report concludes by stating that participation and awareness among citizens and employers play a key role in these workplace alcohol and drug prevention programmes.

By Jane Ngugi and Moses Gicheha

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