Many of the quarrels in the family occur when drinking and drugs come into play. Terry, a facility manager in a camp, explains, “I hang out with my buddies nearly the whole time while off shift and of course I get drunk. My wife hated that. I know it is silly, but I needed this relief.”
Terry is now divorced. His ex-wife, Connie, couldn’t bear to have all the duties on her shoulder and care for ‘another child.’ She explains, “He was just not engaged in the family, he was drunk all the time, I was so sick of that. When he was drunk he was violent and angry not just with me but with the kids too and that is just not acceptable.” This example of Connie and Terry’s relationship is an extreme example for a couple participating in mobile work, but it shows how problems with drugs and alcohol can lead to break-ups and divorce.
There are many problems associated with substance abuse amongst mobile workers. Most companies have strict anti-alcohol and drug policies.
Urine tests – to identify marijuana and other drugs – must be submitted when being hired. In the event of a collision or any other accident there will be an immediate drug and alcohol screening of all parties involved.
Furthermore, not showing up at the pick-up point for getting on site may easily lead to immediate lay-off, likewise when showing up hung-over or otherwise impaired at the start of a workday.
Not being able to work is one thing, but the most severe consequences are accidents: mine-sites are dangerous work places.
Workers that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol could potentially harm themselves or colleagues in their intoxicated state.
Coming out of camp brings relief from an often stressful work shift at the mine site. Some people have troubles spending their time and money wisely during off-shift. This happens to workers of all ages, to single people but also to those in relationships. Some people seek relief in gambling halls and pubs. This is not necessarily a problem when done responsibly.
It becomes troublesome when addiction occurs, leading to loss of money, degradation of health or loss of your job.
Especially if there is a decrease in mining in the region, it can be hard to find a job again if a worker has been penalized for their use and abuse of recreational drugs or alcohol.
The mining community is small and you can easily get a negative reputation. When a job opens up a lot of times HR managers will ask their trusted staff if they can recommend someone they know.
You know, in Fort McMurray they bus you out from camp into town. There is a lot of partying and girls and things going on. You can easily blow up your money. Here in the Yukon like in other places, there are dry camps and you do not leave the camp most of the time. I think it is better. Jason
Our role as HR and safety person is also to look out for substance abuse. We do this for personal safety and the safety of the crew, really. If we find marijuana or alcohol they are done. We immediately charter a plane and send them home. We have strict policies and a clear procedure for that. Tanya
If they suspect something they can also do tests randomly. This is the companies’ right, you signed that in the contract. They can check you anytime. Brady
Sometimes I see these guys drunk and not knowing what to do with themselves in the community. It is great when I see the same people sober in camp, they are proud of what they can do and so strong! Brenda
I was not sober for my next shift and it turned out to be a vicious circle. No job, no money and next thing you know you are selling your toys and sit on your mortgage. Benjamin