Oil industry workers in Canada who are having problems with substance abuse may find themselves in need of addiction rehabilitation. The easy availability of drugs and alcohol in the oil sands and in neighboring cities can completely overwhelm a person’s goal of sobriety and professional intervention may be required. However, choosing which type of treatment program to enroll in can be a difficult decision to make, as there are many to choose from.
The most common cause of substance abuse in the oil industry is the extreme conditions that employees live and work in. The temperatures in the winter can fall below -60 degrees Celsius, the job duties are strenuous, the living conditions are very cramped and there is little to do recreationally. Also significant is the fact that workers are physically separated from their significant others, family and friends and can feel intense loneliness, sadness and frustration.
These cases of addiction are heavily influenced by situation, rather than genetics or mental problems. All known factors that contribute to addiction can be found in the oil industry, but the hardships of the lifestyle are the most common thread through the cases of addiction. For this reason, a rehabilitation center that focuses on spiritual wellness, such as a Christian rehabilitation center, is best suited to these cases of addiction.
At a spiritual rehab, recovering addicts will find the necessary elements of every successful treatment program – licensed staff, provincial accreditation, detoxification, counseling, therapy, sober living and after care support – combined with the help of a higher power to turn to for spiritual and emotional healing. If life circumstances are putting a person through feelings of depression or abandonment that lead to addiction, a program that teaches them that they are not alone, but rather they are loved and supported by a higher power is highly beneficial.
Addiction is hard to confront in any walk of life, but a particularly concentrated addiction problem is found in the Alberta oil industry. The availability of drugs and alcohol combined with uniquely harsh working conditions has created an addiction culture of epic proportions. Fort McMurray’s network of substance abuse treatment facilities have done all they can with the resources they have, but they are not plentiful enough to eradicate the problem. Fort McMurray addiction treatment centers are overflowing with addicts and substance abusers. It is essential that proper inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs be made available to oil workers.
When substance abuse is consuming a person’s life, often to the point of physical dependence on the substance, they need professional intervention in order to confront their problem and permanently end it. This means that professional intervention services should be employed to approach the addict about their problem, as well as the provision of an inpatient medical facility to monitor the person through their detoxification, a live in treatment center to safely separate the person from the substance they are addicted to, in depth group and individual counselling sessions to address the underlying problems that cause addiction, as well as the opportunity for therapeutic activities and ongoing after care to ensure continued sobriety.
There is no reason an oil industry employee should have to forego addiction treatment and suffer in silence. If the rehabilitation services of Alberta cannot meet the needs of addicted persons within the oil industry, then oil workers should look outside of Alberta. Most oil companies permit time off for substance abuse recovery, and even in the rare instances they don’t, recovery should be prioritized above all else. Addiction is taking the lives of oil workers through physical complications, overdose and suicide at alarming rates, and preventitive measures should be taken as soon as someone becomes aware of their substance abuse problem.
Canada’s oil industry is highly lucrative, but is fighting a losing battle to keep their employees in a healthy working condition. Substance abuse has an unprecendented hold on oil workers that is creating hardships for workers and companies alike. While the throws of addiction wreak havoc on the personal lives of oil field workers, oil companies become afflicted with workplace accidents, high employee turnover and absentee pay. It is clear that the solution for everyone is proper substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation for employees.
A common misconception is that an addict will be easy to spot in the work place. Those who are unfamliar with addiction may assume that an addict will have characteristics such as an unkempt appearance, slurred words and poor coordination, and will not be able to function on the level of a non-addict. While all these things can be true, an addict can also be a fully functional person on the job; someone that would never be suspected of substance abuse problems. Addiction wears many masks, but does the same internal damage to anyone it affects. Eventually, a physical, mental and spiritual tole will be taken on the addict if they do not receive treatment.
One major lesson that oil companies have learned from this substance abuse phenomenon is that the discovery of substance abuse in an employee should not lead directly to termination. The employee may have a good relationship with the company and a successful work history, proving to benefit the workplace. It is often in the company’s best interest to connect the employee with rehabilitation services and substance abuse treatment rather than replace them. This promotes a healthy, functional workplace and makes the employee feel secure that reaching out for help will not lead to the loss of their job. This means it is in the company’s best interest to see that its workers have access to quality drug and alcohol substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
With Canada’s largest oil companies in the Fort MacMurray news for drug testing controversies in the oil industry, the public has become aware of the addiction problem in Canada’s oil industry. The worker’s camps are isolated, the job is heavily demanding and the pay is lucrative, leading workers to recklessly overindulge in alcohol and drugs to entertain themselves. So what steps need to be taken to alleviate this problem?
The oil companies promote rehabilitation services, but often workers do not enter into treatments voluntarily. When a worker’s drug test comes back positive, they are frequently given the option of being fired or undergoing rehabilitation. Many of the workers have families to support or large investments to finance in Fort MacMurray, so they naturally choose rehabilitation. It has been argued by those opposed to these policies that they are enstated to protect the companies from lawsuits, not out of human interest. Because treatment for addiction targets the underlying psychological problems of the people who are affected by it, it would seem that human interest should be placed as the first priority in battling addiction.
Oil workers describe living on site as incredibly pressuring – pressure to overwork through gruelling shifts and pressure to use substances heavily, even illegally. There is little to no presence of sobriety support in the work environment, and in the overwhelmingly male dominated environment, needing support tends to be stigmatized as showing signs of weakness.
Provincial health services connect oil workers with a large number of addiction and substance abuse treatment resources, which are utilized more heavily with each passing year, but the need to increase their presence in the oil sands near Fort MacMurray is great. Specialized treatment and outreach for oil workers will become more and more critical as the oil and gas industry continues to expand throughout Canada.