DANIEL KEANE AND CAMRON SLESSOR | 27TH JULY, 2018 | ABC NEWS
Thousands of Australians are turning up to work under the influence of methamphetamines, according to a new report from South Australia's peak business lobby.
SafeWork Laboratories forensic toxicologist Andrew Leibie — who worked on the report — said almost a quarter of a million Australians were high on ice at work "on any given day".
Mr Leibie said the number of workers testing positive nationally increased from 1.5 per cent in 2016 to 1.9 per cent in 2017, equating to some 240,000 workers and 18,500 in South Australia.
The report also found about 5,000 people in South Australia working in safety sensitive industries — 2.2 per cent of workers — were "either under the influence of ice or suffering its hangover effects".
Business SA said the research carried out by SafeWork Laboratories focused on workers in occupations involving machinery, such as mining, manufacturing, utilities, construction and transport.
"That means that today there's 5,000 people working in a safety-sensitive industry who have tested positive; tomorrow it might be another 5,000 separate people," Mr Leibie said.
"That doesn't include people working in bars and clubs because they're not in safety-sensitive industries.
"But if they're driving to work or driving their kids to school, they're still putting themselves, other drivers or their children at risk."
'I lost my health, I lost my job, I couldn't pay bills'
Adelaide man Michael Alder is a reformed ice addict who used the drug while working in a management role.
He said he first tried cocaine almost 15 years ago in London and he tried ice for the first time when he returned to Australia in 2004.
He only used ice for a short period and didn't go back to it until 2013 following a relationship breakdown.
His drug use got to a point where he was using an ice pipe in the toilet during breaks at work in an attempt to stay awake.
Mr Alder said there were signs to look for in users of ice at work, including erratic behaviour, unexplained high energy, an inability to concentrate, dilated pupils or paranoia.
He said as his use got worse, he couldn't work effectively and he had to take extended sick leave following a brain injury which neurosurgeons said may have been caused by his drug use.
"I lost my health, I lost my job, I couldn't pay bills," he said.
"My weight ballooned, sleep apnoea kicked in, I wasn't feeling good and [I was] self-medicating."
Mr Alder has been clean for almost a year, largely thanks to his mother who pushed him to see addiction specialists and then stay at the Adelaide Clinic.
He now attends a Narcotics Anonymous session each night and heads the Adelaide team for the Australian Anti Ice Campaign.
By Daniel Keane and Camron Slessor