Never before has society been more at risk from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which makes it vital for those affected or at risk to seek appropriate, effective and well-founded legal advice, warns leading national boutique law firm Parke Lawyers.

Excessive use of illicit drugs and/or alcohol can affect all aspects of life, including at home, in community settings and in the workplace. Recent media coverage has highlighted the ‘ice’ epidemic, increased violence against medical staff and the role of alcohol and other drugs in family violence.

Parke Lawyers managing director and business law specialist Jim Parke says there is growing pressure on the legal system to protect the community and to address the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on family members and in workplaces.

While the health system is best placed to assist drug and alcohol users manage and escape their addiction, it falls to the legal system to protect those around them. In workplace settings and on our roads, drug testing programs are increasingly common. In child protection, family law and family violence matters, courts are often asked to make orders to protect those affected by a family member’s substance addiction.

As business law specialists, criminal law and family law experts, Parke Lawyers has advised employers and family members on how to protect their legal interests from the conduct of those whose drug or alcohol addiction affects their conduct at work or at home.

Mr Parke urges anyone who is uncertain about what to do or is concerned about the risks to themselves or others to contact a lawyer they can trust and who knows the steps that can be taken.

This is particularly important in family settings when children are affected.  It is a critical duty of the legal system to protect children.

Sometimes they need greater protection from family violence where a family member’s behaviour is affected by drug or alcohol use.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a common cause of marital breakdown, and Mr Parke says the long-term effects on children, if not managed, can be devastating.

Mr Parke says substance abuse also has major implications in the workplace. This can affect other workers, workplace health and safety, and overall productivity.

It is vital that employers have an effective strategy in place, incorporating thorough detection systems and that employers are aware of the legal implications of the strategy as well as the rights of workers.

Again, it is essential that proper legal processes are in place to manage the risks arising from substance abuse in the workplace.

Employers have onerous duties to ensure workplace health and safety. Ensuring appropriate systems and training are in place to make the workplace safe for everyone is essential risk management. No employer wants to face criminal charges and the prospect of a seven-figure fine for failing to maintain a safe workplace.