Mrs. Natrishka Naidoo

Mrs. Natrishka Naidoo
BBusSci Honours Economics
Arca Jhb
Presentation Title
Dealing with Addiction in the South African Workplace
Content Focus Area
Individual Level
Opioids and substance abuse
Biographical information related to the topic
I am the Operational Director of Arca Jhb. I spearheaded the opening of the Johannesburg branch of Arca, along with Dr. Naidoo, our Medical Director. I hold a BBusSci Degree with Honours in Economics with a focus on Development Economics and a special focus on addiction. I have attended several addiction training courses. I also formed part of the team that researched and developed this program, as well as receiving direct training from the Arca Medical Director. I have an in-depth knowledge of the medical and psycho-social aspects of the Arca rehabilitation program. I have also received training from Percy Menzies, an expert on the Naltrexone non-addictive anti-craving medication utilised at Arca. The combined Arca branches of Arca Durban and Arca Johannesburg have treated over 3000 patients for a combination of drug, alcohol and prescription medication addictions with very high success rates. I have many years of experience within this field and have presented on radio as well as to large groups on the subject of addiction.
Addiction is a medical disease which affects an enormous amount of the South African population and we are currently dealing with an epidemic. Addiction happens when a person continues to do something despite the obvious harm to themselves or those around them. Very often addictions such as alcohol or drug addictions begin as a way to have fun or let off steam. But before long the person finds themselves needing more and more of the substance to achieve the same effect. When a person begins to notice the negative effects of any substance use the first step is to try to cut down or stop. Some people may be successful whereas others may not. If a person is not successful, a first step would be to speak to a counsellor or book an appointment with a rehab centre to discuss the issue. Most companies offer counselling to assist their employees through these difficult periods. If the addiction persists, then it may be time for a person to consider rehabilitation treatment.

Addiction in the workplace can have serious consequences for both employers and employees. On the employer’s side there is the cost of absenteeism, the cost of the new hiring and training processes and the danger of errors being made because the employee is not in their right frame of mind or has engaged in risky behaviour. On the side of the employee, there are both the personal costs such as debt, loss of family relationships, depression, anxiety and the professional costs, such as not being able to properly perform their duties, concern about stigma, being terminated due to addiction and having this on a permanent record or lastly being prosecuted for theft in the workplace.

To address this problem, employers need to create a supportive environment to assist their employees to deal with their addiction. An employee will not come forward to seek help if they feel that they will be viewed negatively, their career progress may be hampered or if fellow colleagues may come to know. Employers must have a clear drug and alcohol policy that offers confidential assistance to the employee. Wellness days and drug awareness campaigns are a great platform to facilitate this type of information dissemination. Managers need to be given training to how to handle an employee dealing with addiction and how to facilitate discussions and action plans. All HR departments should also be given addiction training so that they may better understand addiction, remove any fallacies around addiction and allow them to better assist employees. HR teams can get involved by performing random urine testing or breathalysing and if a person is positive for substance use, have a discussion around how to assist them first. HR departments can work with rehabilitation facilities to provide feedback, track attendance and monitor performance. Large companies can also have a clinical psychologist perform weekly support groups for their employees to offer support and ensure success.

Session Description
When business and health collide. Wellness and disease – the opposite sides of the same coin. Sick absenteeism and lowered productivity require effective management. Proactive employee wellness now a business imperative in a fast changing competitive environment. Many wellness programmes are activity based rather than outcomes based with low return on investment and minimal monitoring and evaluation. SANS 16001 is process based utilising the APIME cycle (Assess, Plan, Implement, Monitor and Evaluate). A management system standard which can be integrated with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.
Learning Objective 1
Provide attendees with an understanding of addiction
Learning Objective 2
Identify addictive behaviour and the solutions for this
Learning Objective 3
How to facilitate a supportive work environment
Audience Level