hangover, comedown, workplace absenteeism, sick days, sickies, the cost of sick days

Your wild weekend antics could be costing you more than your dignity, with new research revealing that hangovers and comedowns are causing a damage bill of $3 billion to the Australian economy.

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A recent study conducted by Flinders University found that as a nation we are chucking around 11.5 million sick days due to the after-effects of drugs and alcohol. What’s more, combining the two is said to result in “Weepy Wednesdays” – a comedown that decreases general wellbeing and productivity through the week due to the delayed effects of drug use.

Professor Ann Roche, lead author and director of NCETA, told Pedestrian TV that in the case of alcohol, people often don’t think that their sick days are the result of a few too many. ”Often people will have a lot to drink on Friday or Saturday and then have diarrhoea or gastro type symptoms on a Monday morning that are a direct result of the alcohol, but they don’t connect these with their drinking.”

She also pointed out that “alcohol puts a bit of a tax on your immune system” and can be associated with mental health problems. “If people are prone towards anxiety and depression, they often self-medicate with alcohol,” she explained.

For the purpose of the study, over 12,000 people – with an average age of 41.1 years – were surveyed about their habits and how they affected work and study commitments. More than half of respondents (56.1 per cent) were found to drink alcohol at “low-risk levels,” 26.6 per cent at “risky levels,” while 9.3 per cent admitted to consuming alcohol “high-risk.” Only 8 per cent of people abstained.

In terms of drug use, 7 per cent admitted to using yearly, 3 per cent did so monthly and 5 per cent were found to be using on a weekly basis. While these figures don’t seem overly concerning, Roche said that it was a “huge increase in cost to the economy” with workplace absenteeism costing an extra $1.2 billion per year in comparison to 2001 stats.

So what’s an employer to do? “Implement a formal AOD policy,” the professor recommended, which includes access to counselling and treatment, along with promote a healthier culture in the workplace, particularly around alcohol.

Say goodbye to Friday office drinks, peeps.

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