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Educate...Don't Bombard...Workers with D&A Information Way back in the 1960s, people use to say “turn on and tune out”, referring to using drugs and forgetting all the world’s cares. Taking that old expression and giving it a new twist produces, “bombard and tune out.” Bombarding people with the same message over and over again becomes an ineffective communication strategy in the workplace. Human nature is such that regularly hearing dire warnings offering no context on a routine basis turns important messages into ones that are tuned out. Drug and alcohol education programs in the workplace need to be structured to do exactly what the description implies – educate workers and in a way that makes sense to them. Employers can learn a lot from studies conducted to determine the effects of media on listener attitudes towards illicit drugs. The public is bombarded on a daily basis with news media reports covering a range of topics. Though the message is often intended to produce positive results, the opposite can happen. For example, media reporting on violence that is meant to inform and warn people can desensitise them towards violence instead. The question is whether bombarding people with information about illicit drugs and drug activity desensitises them to the dangers of using the substances. Do people quit listening? Does information overload change attitudes towards illicit drugs as to their risks and acceptability? If so, is the change good or bad? Framing a Relevant Message A study conducted involving teenagers and young adults, many of whom are employed, indicated that how a message is framed influences decision making. Media messages influence the formation of opinions and reinforcement of concepts, partly because younger people do not have life experiences to provide personal context. However, all people are influenced by media to some degree. New information merges with people’s existing beliefs, and attitudes emerge from the mix. For young adults, the existing attitudes have developed mostly as a result of interactions with parents and peers.1 Older adults have life experiences to fall back on and hear messages with more solidified beliefs and attitudes. Pre-existing beliefs play a large role in determining how someone interprets a message, which is why workplace drug and education programs get the message across more successfully with some people than others. Non-users of illicit drugs rely on news media, or other sources like employer education programs, for their information, and these sessions have a great influence on shaping attitudes about risks of drug use. On the other hand, those who have previously tried illicit drugs are likely to be more intrigued by news media reports about a new illicit drug hitting the streets. Therefore, how a message is composed will influence its final impact. For example, people who are regular weekend partiers and regularly mix drugs and alcohol will tune out an education program if it appears to be out of touch with the reality of polydrug use and talks about binge drinking and illicit drug taking as separate events to be treated

separately. Credibility of information is critical. Studies have also indicated that many younger people will take media messages at face value, whilst older people need hard facts and research to change their attitudes or beliefs. This harkens back to the previous point noted that people’s attitudes are formed through life experiences, and it is difficult to overcome what people have witnessed, experienced, read and watched for years.2 Talking About the Right Things Telling workers over and over again that “thou shall not take drugs or drink alcohol at work� is not an effective education program. One of the conclusions reached is that there is a greater chance of deterring teenagers and young adults from workplace drug use by including the impact of drug use in messaging. Instead of just talking about the legal issues or the possibility of job termination if caught using drugs, the employer can include information about cannabis psychosis and how that effect risks workplace safety. However, for workers of any age, changing existing behaviours and attitudes relies on a regular education program that explains how drugs (and alcohol) impact the health and welfare of employees and the workplace, and how substance abuse increases the risk of harm. 3 Regular education does not mean bombarding people with messages, hanging antidrug posters all over the place, or sending emails every day that end up getting deleted. It means consistent delivery of useful, relevant, and realistic information that workers can contextualise and internalise. Each workplace is different, and employers need to adapt their messages to the audience. Mediscreen ( works with employers to ensure they understand drug and alcohol testing procedures, the substances that can be tested, and documentation requirements. The first step in educating employees is educating the management and supervisory staff. This article has been taken from :

Educate don't bombard workers with d&a information  

Mediscreen provides drug testing program with credibility and your company with greater legal defensibility.

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