Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Rise In Workplace Alcohol Detections

1 May 2024, Auckland, New Zealand – Since 2022, The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) has seen alcohol detections rise significantly, with the detection rate nearly doubling during the 2022 and 2023 holiday periods. Traditionally, positive detections reduce after December and January, but initial testing results show a worrying trend. The increase in detection has yet to subside, holding steady with a 13.8 percent increase over the last two years.

The data comes from Imperans, TDDA’s digital reporting system which is also the largest private database of drug and alcohol testing information in New Zealand.

“Imperans is New Zealand’s largest private database of workplace drug and alcohol testing results and we’ve observed a persistent rise in alcohol detections. TDDA has seen higher detection levels surpass the holiday season. There’s a longer tail on the issue, and it’s becoming a regular trend. We’re flagging the increased alcohol use with our clients as well as the wider business community, so everyone is aware of the increased workplace risk,” says Glenn Dobson, CEO, TDDA.

While data shows a marked increase in positive detections, anecdotal evidence indicates a range of issues causing the substance to extend from home to work. Stresses at home, mental health issues and financial and inflationary pressures have been cited as triggers for use. Given the upward trend, companies are encouraged to review their current substance policy, also known as a drug and alcohol policy, to ensure it remains current, fit for purpose and legally robust.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Positive alcohol detection rates by year:

  • 2022: 0.29 percent
  • 2023: 0.32 percent
  • 2024 (Jan/Feb): 0.33 percent

“More and more people tested are showing signs of alcohol in their system, which represents a real issue for Kiwi businesses to manage. While it’s hard to draw causal lines between workers’ behaviour and alcohol issues, anecdotally, TDDA is hearing that traditional dependence issues are being inflamed by factors like mental health issues as well as financial pressures,” says Dobson.

Understanding alcohol issues, establishing a cohesive drug and alcohol policy, and training & education are important for maintaining a safe and productive workforce as well as compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Alcohol issues can lead to tardiness and frequent absences, a decline in performance, behavioural issues and mood swings, poor decision making, safety issues, injuries and even death.

TDDA’s services and its Imperans database are critical tools for employers looking to base their testing and policies on real-time data and accredited best practices. Employers are encouraged to regularly evaluate their drug and alcohol policies and address the ever-changing and unique challenges posed by substance use.

TDDA recommends the following testing methods for alcohol detection:

  • Breathalyser: the same technology used by roadside police to demonstrate presence. Primarily used in mobile testing clinics for on-site screenings and spot testing.
  • Alcohol Hair Testing: a hair sample collection that is used to demonstrate lifestyle alcohol use. Primarily used for court-ordered testing or pre-employment screening of professional job applicants.

About The Drug Detection Agency

TDDA was established in 2005 to provide New Zealand and Australian businesses with end-to-end workplace substance testing, education, and policy services. TDDA is a leader in workplace substance testing with more than 300 staff, 90 mobile health clinics, 65 locations throughout Australasia, and processing more than 250,000 tests annually. TDDA holds ISO17025 accreditation for workplace substance testing in both Australia and New Zealand, ensuring its operations meet rigorous international standards in quality management and competence. TDDA’s process and technologies create safer workplaces.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.