The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA’s) decision to allow psychiatrists to prescribe psychedelic substances, such as MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) for post-traumatic stress disorder and treatment-resistant depression, is now in effect. This move by the TGA has significant implications not only for mental health care but also for workplace drug and alcohol programs.
Legalising Psychedelic Prescriptions
Coming into effect earlier this month, Australian psychiatrists now have the authority to prescribe MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. However, it is important to note that these drugs are not approved for general use but rather, are limited to controlled medical settings under the supervision of authorised psychiatrists. Click here for further details.
For workplaces managing drug and alcohol risk, it is important to note the following about this TGA decision:
MDMA is an Amphetamine like substance. The Australian Standard for both oral fluid and urine drug testing includes the testing of Amphetamine like substances. As such, it is possible MDMA will be detected in an onsite workplace drug test.
Further, if an onsite test returns a non-negative for MDMA and is sent to for confirmatory testing, the laboratory cannot determine if the MDMA detected is from a prescription medication or an illegal source. This makes it important that a worker declare any medication at the time of a non-negative result to help with the determination of the final laboratory result.
Psilocybin, however, is not included in the Australian Standard for either oral fluid or urine drug tests and there is currently no onsite drug test available to reliably detect Psilocybin.
Workplace drug and alcohol policies need to reference prescription (and over the counter) medicines, not just illegal drugs.
Workplaces should encourage confidential disclosure of medication with their staff to ensure the safety of the individual and the team as a whole.
Employers have an opportunity to proactively address the potential risks associated with psychedelic prescriptions by implementing comprehensive drug education programs. These programs can help both employees and managers understand the TGA requirements, the effects and risks of psychedelics and the impact on workplace safety.
Staying informed and seeking guidance from reliable sources is becoming more and more crucial in this ever-changing landscape. At DASA, we have a team of doctors and scientists who have developed a range of training and educational material, including webinars, that can help keep you and your team plugged in. To know more, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol testing services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.