Perception of Substance Abuse on Employees’ Performance in Ghana Airport Company

EVANS SOKRO

Assisted by Sabaina Boadi and Eric Kyeremateng

Department of Management & Human Resource

Central University College, Miotso

P. O. Box DS 2310, Accra

Ghana

evansok@yahoo.com

Abstract: This research examined the effects of substance abuse on employee performance in Ghana Airport Company. The study employed a survey design in which 150 respondents were purposively selected to respond to semi-structured questionnaire. Two hypotheses were tested and their results established that workers who abuse substances are less likely to perform effectively than non-substance abusers in organizations; and also substance abusers in organizations are more likely to report sick than non-substance abusers. The findings of the study also indicate that employees abuse substances because of the belief that: it reduces stress; it modifies moods; it enhances performance; because of social and peer pressures; and also for the purposes of socialization and fun. The findings further established that alcohol is the substance mostly abused by employees of the Ghana Airport Company. Another finding revealed that substance abuse can contribute to lower productivity and general performance of the company. To minimize the effects of substance abuse on employee performance, there should be regular awareness programmes for employees and organizations should also have in place periodic drug testing programmes for employees.

Key words: substance abuse, employee performance, airport company, Ghana, alcohol, cocaine, injury

1 Introduction

Employers are usually interested in recruiting and selecting the right people with the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform well on the job. Unfortunately not all the methods used by the employer are efficient enough to determine the qualities of potential employees that the employers are looking for.  More often than not employers make the decision not to adopt drug testing policies because they are confident in their own ability to spot substance abuse problems in their employees. Unfortunately, these problems rarely become evident until it goes further into the downward spiral of addiction. New users may not always show the typical signs of a “user” but the substance in their system can still impair their ability to function efficiently as employees (Merrick, 2007).

Studies have shown that on average, 10% to 12% of the workforce in any given company abuse drugs. Ohene (2008) indicates that substances usually abused include cannabis, crack, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, pethidine, codeine, morphine, khat and inhalants, which include glue, petrol and thinner. He noted that a survey conducted in the Upper West Region indicated that alcoholism was on the increase with ‘pito’ (a local drink prepared from millet) being the most widely used among both children and adults.

History has indicated that humans have used drugs of one sort or another for thousands of years. Wine was used at least from the time of the early Egyptians, narcotics from 4000 B.C., and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China. But not until the 19th century A.D. was the active substances in drugs extracted. There followed a time when some of these newly discovered substances like morphine, laudanum and cocaine were completely unregulated and prescribed freely by physicians for a wide variety of ailments. They were available in patent medicines and sold by travelling tinkers, in drugstores, or through the mail. During the American Civil War, morphine was used freely, and wounded veterans returned home with their kits of morphine and hypodermic needles. By the early 1900s there were an estimated 250,000 addicts in the United States (Butler, 2009).

Substance abuse problems can indeed open companies up to greater legal liability. Studies indicate that alcohol and drug abusers are two to four times as likely to have an accident as people who do not use drugs and alcohol, and substance abusers can be linked to approximately 40 percent of industrial fatalities (Zumpano, 2009).

Moreover, drug or alcohol-addicted employees can also wreak harm on people and property both in and outside the company. For example, when drivers come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, accidents could happen, causing the disruption of deliveries or other activities. Vehicles could be damaged; people could be hurt or killed. These have immediate impact on the bottom line for a small or medium sized company (Zumpano, 2009). In addition, substance abuse can also affect individuals in different ways and varying degrees. Little drug and alcohol use can also cause performance impairment. This is why employers need to be aware of potential impacts and set clear standards and expectations to minimize the risk.

Substance abuse in the work place is a subject of concern to many business owners, in one way or another. Oftentimes, the issue is a sensitive one to confront, but business owners and researchers alike agree that if left unchecked, substance abuse has the capacity to cripple or destroy a company (Zumpano, 2009). It is important to state that drugs and alcohol act on the central nervous system altering the way a person behaves. In effect the basic functions of a person are affected resulting in the person’s performance. When drugs, alcohol, stress or fatigue-impair an employee, the potential for error increases tenfold, (Johnston, 2007).

Studies revealed that 1 out of 6 workers have a drug problem, and that drug abusers on average cost an employer $7,000 – $10,000 per employee annually. These studies also revealed that these employees are absent from work up to 16 times more often and are 1/3 less productive (Doweiko, 2006). Substance abuse experts and business researchers alike warn that substance abuse problems are not the sort of problems that tend to go away by themselves. Rather, they often continue to grow. Indeed, substance abuse often ends up being a tremendous drain on a company’s fiscal well-being. This drain takes many forms, including decreased productivity, increased absences, rising numbers of accidents, use of sick leave, and jumps in workers’ compensation claims (Zumpano, 2009). The present study is basically an attempt to further examine the effects of substance abuse in organizations guided by the following objectives;

  • To determine the causes of substance abuse among employees.
  • To find out the type of substances mostly abused by employees.
  • To determine the effects of substance abuse on employee performance and the company’s output.
  • To find out measures to address substance abuse related problems in workplaces.

2 Problem Formulation

2.1 Literature Review

Several theories can be used to explain substance abuse in society and one of them is the social conflict theory. Clayton and Scott (2006) note that from the perspective of social conflict theory, substance abuse is primarily a problem of structural inequality and class conflict. While substance abuse is generally omnipresent throughout society, social conflict theory argues that minorities, the lower class and other marginalized groups are more likely to disproportionally suffer negative consequences as a result of substance abuse. While the use of mind-altering substances has been a persistent activity throughout human history, the term substance abuse is generally used to describe an unhealthy, debilitating and antisocial dependence on any chemical substance. Generally, this is most often used to refer to illicit or illegal drugs as well as some legal but regulated substances such as alcohol or prescription medications. Substance abuse is generally regarded as personally and socially detrimental, and is usually considered a punishable offense by many state regulatory agencies.

Even though drug use is common throughout all levels of society, conflict theory points out that marginalized groups in society are more likely to be targeted for substance abuse violations than the dominant class or groups. For instance, it is commonly believed that poor communities and racial minorities suffer from higher numbers of drug use, although some studies have shown that substance abuse is just as prolific in rich, predominantly white communities. Additionally, it is commonly thought that poor and minority youth are more likely to engage in drug dealing as a means of overcoming their economic problems and sense of alienation, thus perpetuating destructive cycles of drug abuse and violence.

Conflict theory argues that the law and the coercive power of the state (which is generally believed to function in the service of the higher class) is commonly targeted and deployed against marginalized groups as a means of reinforcing the social structure. This is not always intentional, but is oftentimes a consequence of preconceived attitudes and bias against marginalized groups. As a result, marginalized groups are more often assumed to suffer from drug abuse and to be more likely to commit illegal acts. Additionally, they are more likely to be seen as undesirables and thus given harsher punishments than their counterparts from the dominant class. This can, in turn, further perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse.

Conflict theory illustrates how marginalized groups lack the power and representation necessary to better their place in the world, and how the status quo works to preserve and reproduce itself rather than change to accommodate equality. Thus, substance abuse is largely a social-structural problem, exacerbated by pre-existing social circumstances. Critics of conflict theory argue that structural inequality is not an excuse for making bad personal decisions, but they fail to realize that what they consider intolerable behaviour in members of marginalized groups they often excuse in members of their own group. Since marginalized groups lack power in society, they also lack the representation and authority necessary to better their situation. Realizing this, they often sink further into the plights associated with substance abuse. However, through fighting for more representation and recognition in society, some communities manage to overcome their struggle with substance abuse.

2.2 The Causes of Substance Abuse among Employees

According to Hall (1996), varieties of substances are used in order to reduce stress. ‘Happy Hour’ at the local bar is clear testimony to this phenomenon. Following a hard day’s work, many people have developed the habit of stopping by for a drink to relax before going home. Numerous studies have indicated that people consume alcohol for what are perceived as benefits to quality of life such as relaxation, sociability, stress reduction, and greater sense of psychological well being (Leigh and Stacy, 1994).

Substance abuse can also occur when the individual perceives a need to escape family problems and finds that the numbing effect of chemicals provides this avenue. Thus, substances that serve to lessen either physical or emotional pain can rapidly become part of daily routine leading to substance abuse. The need to remove feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or depression can cause one to seek a chemical solution to the problem that is often easier than working on the real issues involved. In some ways, it appears that rituals, full of meanings, have been replaced with ‘meaningless’ habits or a means of avoiding feelings of discomfort. Moreover, once meaning has been lost, so, too, has the individual’s perceived sense of control over the substance usage. Self-medication, in order to avoid disease becomes a necessity in order to survive emotionally and/or physically as the source of discomfort continues to exist (Pernanen, 1991).

Social and peer pressures are particularly problematic for the young and the “upwardly mobile”. Either of these can be associated with relief of loneliness and dealing with lack of self-confidence. While Caudill and Marlatt (1975) point out that social drinking can function as a means of regulating alcohol consumption, Pernanen (1991) indicates that social drinking can also be related to higher levels of intoxication. These pressures can result in patterns of substance usage that define where, when, and how much of the chemical is used. According to Heath (1995), alcohol usage has been specifically related to sociability in a variety of cultures. Associated with social settings, the use of chemical substances can lower inhibitions and result in what is perceived as closer contact with others. Unfortunately, this is part of the reasons why some infectious diseases have spread dramatically and why the individual can develop the attitude that he/she is incapable of functioning socially without this chemical support.

Lowe (1994) contends that “third party economics” holds a special challenge to the understanding of substance abuse. Used with legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, individuals are bombarded with advertising campaigns indicating that people who are young, attractive, healthy, wealthy, and successful use these types of legal drugs. The adverts that are used may indicate that these individuals are happy and have many friends. Or, that the inclusion of the substance can lead one to finding the perfect mate or escape to the ‘Islands’ far from the stressful daily world in which most of us exist. This highly seductive approach can lead the individual to develop expectations that are not based on reality. The individual’s sense of self-worth, self-esteem, social status, values, and beliefs concerning the use of these substances is the result of advertising designed to encourage consumer spending rather than consumer well being.

Peele (1985) notes that some of the issues specific to alcohol abuse deal with the social-learning concepts which manifest, such as the degree to which the drinker believes him/her self capable of controlling his/her drinking, and the belief that alcohol is an effective means of modifying moods. The fact that age, socioeconomic status, and minority status are considered predictors of problem drinking; it challenges the disease model concept of alcoholism and calls attention to the cognitive aspects of the process. However, this should not be considered to negate the disease model but rather exemplify the need for holistic interventions that are inclusive of values and beliefs along with biological variables. Even where there is a known genetic basis for alcoholism, there are significant variations in the rates of alcoholism which could be attributed to social regulation (Peele, 1985).

2.3 The Type of Substances mostly abused by Employees

According to Arthur (2009), numerous substances can be abused by addicts who seek a high. Some substances are uppers, while others are downers. Some addicts use one and then the other to bring themselves up or down. Below are five of the most common types of substance usually abused:

Alcohol: Social acceptability makes alcohol one of the most abused substances. Because access to alcoholic beverages is convenient, alcohol abuse affects a large population.

Cocaine: Cocaine addiction can be detrimental to the substance abuser because it drains all aspects of his life. Financial, family and emotional issues surface with the addiction.

LSD: LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) can be a drug of choice for individuals wanting to escape the reality of life. Many addicts choose LSD because it is undetectable in drug tests.

Marijuana: A common, inexpensive drug that is usually inhaled is marijuana, also referred to as pot. Unlike other substances, marijuana is not as physically addictive. However, marijuana is viewed as a gateway drug to other substances.

Prescription Drugs: Prescription substance abuse is on the rise and affects teens as well as adults. Prescription drugs are usually found by the addict initially in the home.

2.4 The Effect of Substance Abuse on Performance

More than 60 percent of adults know someone who has reported for work under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drug abuse in the workplace costs American Businesses nearly $100 billion a year in lost productivity, high absenteeism and turnover rates, on and off-the-job accidents, excessive use of medical benefits, theft and property damage. They also lose 37 billion due to premature death and $44 billion due to illness. Alcoholism is estimated to cause 500 million lost workdays annually. Experts say that 10% to 15% of all employees are dependent on drugs and or alcohol (Frone, 2003). Substance abuse could also have negative impact on families, delay in decision-making, imbalances in resource distribution and distortion of family routine (Ohene, 2008).

Injury is one of many adverse consequences of substance use and misuse, and substance use and misuse are therefore often suspected to contribute to occupational injuries. A significant share of full-time workers report heavy alcohol use or illegal drug use and meet criteria for substance-use disorders, which make these conjectures even more salient. For instance, according to the 2002, 2003, and 2004 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health in the U.S, approximately 9 percent of 18- to 64-year-old full-time workers met criteria for heavy alcohol use and 9 percent met criteria for past-year alcohol dependence or abuse. With respect to drug use, 8 percent of 18- to 64-year-old workers reported any illicit drug use in the past month, and 3 percent met criteria for past-year drug dependence or abuse (Larson et al., 2007).

Almost half of all fatal occupational injuries are transportation incidents, and the remainders are generally grouped into being struck by an object, falling to a lower level, or being the victim of a homicide (CDC, 2007). In many of these instances, findings from experimental studies on the impact of substance use, particularly alcohol and sedative use, on impairments in reaction time, reasoning, coordination, care, and judgment may explain why even minimal amounts of substance use while working may increase a worker’s risk of being injured on the job (Normand, Lempert, and O’Brien, 1994). On the other hand, laboratory studies have indicated that moderate levels of drug use may not affect a worker’s ability to perform certain work-related tasks, particularly those that are simple and repetitive (Holcom, Lehman, and Simpson, 1993).

Studies have also consistently shown that homicide victims often have high levels of alcohol in their bodies, which may be attributed to the alcohol and other drugs’ suppression of the central nervous system, which could lead to an increase in provocative behavior. Alternatively, people who are intoxicated may be more likely to be targeted for other crimes (e.g., robbery) that result in homicide (Goodman et al., 1986). In these cases, the substances acute intoxication effects are considered the primary causal mechanisms linking substance use to injury, though risk of injury is certainly influenced by environmental conditions.

Employees with alcohol-related problems have health care costs that are double when compared to those of their peers (Horgan et al., 2005).  In fact, individuals who abuse alcohol use four times as many hospital days as non-drinkers. Furthermore, almost half of all emergency room visits for trauma and/or injury are alcohol-related (Frone, 2003). Excessive use of alcohol and other substances is connected to untreated depression or other mental illnesses. High expenditures for physical health care often mask substance abuse. Excessive consumption of alcohol puts employees at risk for developing a range of costly physical health problems, such as liver disease, heart disease, cancer, pancreatitis, breast cancer, and fetal alcohol syndrome in children (Ballantyne and Mao, 2004).

In 2003, an estimated $21 billion was spent in the United States for treatment of substance-related disorders (Mao, 2007).  Private insurance payments on substance abuse claims grew at an average rate of only 0.1% annually between 1993 and 2003, while the private payment annual growth rate for all health care increased by 7.3%. The minimal increase in insurance payments for substance abuse treatment can possibly be attributed to the implementation of managed care, less generous coverage and more tightly controlled use of substance abuse services. Alcohol and drug abuse not only bring higher costs for the substance abuser, but also for dependents. Research shows that family members of alcohol and drug abusers also incur more health care costs and have more health issues. A 2007 study showed that after adjusting for demographic differences, the family members of individuals with alcohol and/or drug problems cost an average of $433-490 more per year than their peers (Ray et al., 2007). These family members are also more likely to be diagnosed with substance use disorders, depression, and trauma even when compared to family members of persons with other chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes (Ray et al., 2009).

Substance abuse is common, and the costs of substance abuse are high for employers. Of the 20 million adults classified as having problems with substance dependence or abuse in 2007, approximately 12 million (60%) were employed on full time basis. In addition to higher absenteeism and lower job productivity and performance, substance abuse also leads to greater health care expenses for injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, safety and other risks for employers can increase workers’ compensation and disability claims (Gfroerer, 2007).

A large number of drug addicts are employed today and they are more vulnerable to accidents at the workplace (Hernandez, 2009). According to Texas Business Today (2006), nearly 64% of all accidents were directly or indirectly related to drug abuse at workplace. Drug abuse at workplace is a serious issue. It impairs an employee’s judgment and coordination, which leads to increased risk of accidents, and reduced productivity (Hernandez, 2009).

Alcohol and drug abuse not only affects the individual concerned, but also endangers the circle of people surrounding the abuser, and has the potential to destroy the person’s career and relationships. Alcohol impairs the brain’s proper functioning. It reduces the ability to make sound judgments and decisions, and increases the likelihood of mistakes through the loss of spatial awareness and control of the body. As heavy drinkers or drug users become more unreliable, their absenteeism increases while their productivity diminishes. While these issues will have a negative impact on any workplace over time, they are particularly damaging in industries where employees’ physical safety may be at risk from others, such as in construction or distribution industries (Arthur, 2009).

2.5 Measures to Address Substance Abuse in Workplaces

Workplace substance abuse prevention is designed to assist companies effectively deal with drug and alcohol as a matter of safety, health, and performance. Most companies (particularly small- and medium-sized) do not retain the services of mental health professionals. In addition, privacy and human rights legislation create a minefield of potential liabilities for companies who wish to take direct action with an employee. Therefore, the diagnosis and treatment of employees that show symptoms of drug or alcohol problems is best left to others (Kazan, 2006).

Professionals and friends of alcoholics are showing a growing interest in setting up appropriate types of support systems, which could benefit Ghanaians who have gone through detoxification, medical treatment and counseling (Chris, 2009). Clinicians in Africa and developing countries must build a database on smoking, alcohol and substance abuse through research to enable them to inform and advise policy makers on the appropriate strategy required to curb the menace (Tumwine, 2008). It is essential that employers understand addiction, the prevalence of substance abuse among working adults, and the costs related to substance abuse. Substance abuse is treatable, particularly when it is addressed as a chronic disease. Reducing employee substance abuse can help employers improve productivity, reduce workplace injuries, and decrease health care costs (Gfroerer, 2007).

According to Gfroerer (2007), this guide offers practical solutions for addressing substance abuse. Employers can address substance use and abuse in their employee population by: (1) Implementing drug-free workplace and other written substance abuse policies; (2) Offering health benefits that provide comprehensive coverage for substance use disorders, including aftercare and counseling; (3) Educating employees about the health and productivity hazards of substance abuse through company wellness programs, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Work/Life programs; (4) Utilizing EAP services to help employees with substance abuse; (5) Respecting employees’ privacy; and (6) Reducing stigma in the workplace.

Cilente (2009) notes that chronic and relapsing condition of drug and alcohol abuse presents significant challenges for intervention. Abstinence and relapse prevention are dependent upon the client’s ability and willingness to change attitudes, behaviors, and values. Patients must be able to develop the skills necessary to be aware of what has led to the use of a substance and to identify the warning signs heralding a potential relapse. Once aware, the patient must then learn new, more effective ways of coping which allow a choice not to use the substance.

Cognitive therapy is directed at identifying and modifying maladaptive beliefs that cause discomfort and dysfunctional behaviors. The purpose when dealing with addictive behaviors is to help the client identify and avoid stimuli which promotes the use of the substance, find the means to cope with those stimuli when they cannot be avoided, and to recognize the difference between those situations where coping skills are effective and where avoiding the situation is necessary (Peele, 1985).

The importance of cognitive processes in addiction is well argued by Ludwig (1989). In dealing with the topics of craving and relapse, cognitive distortions contribute greatly to obtaining and maintaining abstinence. Treatment can be directed at assisting the patient in learning how to predict the occurrence of and resist the craving for alcohol. When these methods are put into practice, the alcoholic is able to correct thinking patterns and to remain abstinent. Ludwig promotes such cognitive manipulations as ‘distraction’, ‘substitution’, ‘thought-ignoring’, and ‘thought-stopping as cognitive-behavioural methods which serve the recovering alcoholic well. The implications for applying cognitive therapies in the treatment of substance abuse are clearly indicated by health research (Taylor et al., 2000). Cognitively based concepts such as optimism, personal control, meaning in life, self-worth, and others have been found to contribute positively when an individual is faced with the stress of illness. However, distortions of these concepts, such as would be found when expectations are not based on reality, did not impact the health of the individual.

In terms of the positive outcomes attributed to positive beliefs, it is held that positive beliefs may affect emotional states and physiological functioning. Taylor, et al. (2000) indicate that positive beliefs contributing to enhanced sense of self-worth, level of control, and optimism, can encourage the individual to participate in health-promoting activities. Additionally, the positive emotional states may well contribute to enhanced social interactions and therefore affect support systems. All of these serve to provide the individual with greater resources for responding to stress.

Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been used in treatment of alcohol and cocaine abuse with positive results (Parks & Marlatt, 1999). Based upon the premise that maladaptive behavioral patterns are a function of the learning processes, relapse prevention uses several cognitive-behavioral techniques to obtain abstinence and for intervention with relapse. These methods are used to enhance the individual’s level of awareness of the costs of addictive behaviors. Additionally, the individual’s self-control is increased by preparing the person to deal with potential problems before they become real problems. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) (1999) reports that cognitive therapy is an effective intervention for drug addiction treatment. Cognitive therapy is versatile enough to be applicable in long-term or short-term residential settings as well as non-residential treatment programs. This is particularly important within the current social mandates to minimize the cost of intervention without reducing the quality of care. Moreover, when in both residential settings and in non-residential programs, there can be a continuity of therapy type that provides a more comfortable transition for the client.

Cognitive based therapies can provide a variety of techniques that the patient can use to either minimize the temptation to use a substance or to choose not to use the substance. The cognitive skills needed to deal with social pressures, interpersonal conflict, and negative emotions can be developed and patients can learn to identify ‘high-risk situations’ and avoid them. This leads to the patient developing a greater sense of control and empowerment, which serve to enhance self-esteem, and well being. The evidence certainly exists to indicate cognitive therapies are effective in dealing with addictive behaviors (Parks and Marlatt, 1999).

Awareness programs and drug testing help in avoiding drug abuse at the workplace. Increased awareness is key to drug free environment, which makes employees understand the magnitude of destruction caused due to drug abuse at the workplace. Periodic drug abuse testing increases awareness levels. Drug tests detect the drug abusers and filter them from other employees. They also discourage and deter employees from drug abuse (Hernandez, 2009). Based on the foregoing discourse, it is meaningful to formulate these hypotheses:

  • Workers who abuse substances are less likely to perform effectively than non- substance users in organizations.
  • Substance abusers in organizations are more likely to report sick than non-substance users.

2.6 Research Methodology

The underlying factor in most studies on research methodology is the selection of methodology based on the research problem and stated research questions. According to Naichiamas and Frankfort-Naichiamas (1996), methodologies are considered to be systems of explicit rules and procedure, upon which research is based, and against which claims for knowledge are evaluated. Conducting any type of research should be governed by a well-defined research methodology based on scientific principles. Yin (2003), described five primary strategies in research for which social scientists use to collect empirical data. According to him, depending on the character of the research questions, to which extent the researcher has control over behavioural events and to what degree the focus is on contemporary event, the research can choose from the following: Experiments; Survey; Analysis of archival records; History; and Case study.  In this study, a survey approach is used because the researcher wants to have easy access to information and also to minimize cost. It is important to note that surveys are used to gather information on a population at a single point in time, mainly by the use of questionnaire or interview (Shuttleworth, 2008).

2.6.1 Population of the Study

The population for this study is the management and staff of Ghana Airport Company Limited. Population, sometimes referred to as the universe, is the grand total of what is being measured i.e. people, organizations, industries, firms, departments and sections (Proctor, 2003). Population in research could also be referred to all members of the target of the study as defined by the objectives of the study (Nwana, 2008).

2.6.2 Sampling Technique

Sampling is the process by which a relatively small number of individuals or measures of individual objects or events are selected and analyzed in order to find out something about the entire population from which it was selected (Lokesh, 2002). The sample for the study consisted of senior staff, middle level management staff, junior staff, contract employees, national service personnel, and those on internship. Purposive sampling strategy was used in this research. The names of respondents were initially determined by the management of each department through the company’s records based on their job responsibilities, position and involvement in the subject studied. However, respondents were also selected on the basis of the researcher’s judgment on the grounds that they could provide the necessary information needed for the research. A total of 150 respondents out of 180, responded to the questionnaire. They include 39 senior staff, 22 middle level management staff, 35 junior staff, while 18 respondents each were from national service, internship and contract employees’ category of the company.

2.6.3 Data Collection

A questionnaire was employed to elicit information from the respondents. The use of this instrument offers sufficient flexibility to approach different respondents. To have a representative sample of the respondents, the researchers made an initial visit to the study area to obtain information on their departments and sections. Through informal contacts we managed to sensitize the selected departments and sections and gave some indication of the issues that our study seeks to investigate. However, despite these attempts of maintaining a high reliability in this study, personal biases on the part of the respondents in answering the questions cannot be ruled out. The questionnaire consisted of both open-ended and structured questions. Data was collected in April, 2010.

2.6.4 Method of Data Analysis

The field data collected was coded and by the use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), data was analyzed and interpreted by using both quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques. The hypotheses were tested by the use of chi-square (X²). According to Yin (1994), the ultimate goal of analyzing data is to treat the evidence fairly, to produce compelling analytical conclusions and to rule out alternative interpretations. In another sense data analysis is seen to consist of three concurrent flows of activities (Miles and Huberman, 1994). These three are data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification. Trochim (2005) also suggests three ways for drawing conclusions. These are inductive, deductive, and adductive. The deductive method of analysis is used in this study since theories and literature that have been established already are used as a foundation for the new research and the valid conclusions drawn are perceived to be logically connected.

3 Problem Solution

3.1 Results

The Chi- Square was used as the Test Statistic to test the two hypotheses of the study. Our analysis of each hypothesis is explained below:

Hypothesis 1 (1): Workers who abuse substances are less likely to perform effectively than non-substance users in an organization.

Table 1: Observed Frequencies

Respondents Opinion Male Female Total
Strongly agree 11 10 21
Agree 11 11 22
Neutral 12 12 24
Disagree 15 13 28
Strongly disagree 38 17 55
Total 87 63 150

Source: Field Data 2010

Table 2: Expected Frequencies

O E ( O – E ) ( O – E )2
11 12.18 -1.18 1.3924 0.1143
11 12.76 -1.76 3.0976 0.2428
12 13.92 -1.92 3.6864 0.2648
15 16.24 -1.24 1.5376 0.0947
38 31.9 6.1 37.2100 1.1665
10 8.82 1.18 1.3924 0.1579
11 9.24 1.76 3.0976 0.3347
12 10.08 1.92 3.6864 0.3657
13 11.76 1.24 1.5376 0.1307
17 23.1 -6.1 37.2100 1.6108

= 4.4829

The computed value of the test statistic (X² = 4.483) is less than the critical value (X² = 9.488), we accept the null hypothesis and conclude that workers who abuse substances are less likely to perform better than non-substance users in organizations. Gfroerer (2007) indicates that substance abuse leads to higher absenteeism, lower job productivity and performance. Besides, the findings in this study supports the findings of Zumpano (2009) which indicates that little drug and alcohol use can cause performance impairment. Similarly, the findings of Johnston (2007) are also in line with the current findings which established that drugs and alcohol act on the central nervous system altering the way a person behaves. In effect the basic functions of the person are affected resulting in the person’s poor performance, since drug abusers are less likely to exercise good sense of judgment in the performance of their tasks and responsibilities.

Hypothesis 2 (2): Substance abusers in organizations are more likely to report sick than non-substance users.

Table 3: Observed Frequencies

Respondents View Male Female Total
Strongly agree 21 12 33
Agree 26 18 44
Neutral 15 11 26
Disagree 12 11 23
Strongly disagree 13 11 24
Total 87 63 150

Table 4: Expected Frequencies

O E ( O – E ) ( O – E )2
21 19.14 1.86 3.4596 0.18.08
26 25.52 0.48 0.2304 0.0090
15 15.08 -0.08 0.0064 0.0004
12 13.34 -1.34 1.7956 0.1346
13 13.92 -0.92 0.8464 0.0608
12 13.86 -1.86 3.4596 0.2485
18 18.48 -0.48 0.2304 0.0125
11 10.92 0.08 0.0064 0.0006
11 9.66 1.34 1.7956 0.1859
11 10.08 0.92 0.8464 0.0840

= 0.9171

The computed value of the test statistic (X² = 0.917) above is less than the critical value (X² = 9.488). We therefore accept the null hypothesis and conclude that Substance abusers in organizations are more likely to report sick than non-substance users. The result of the above stated hypothesis confirms the findings of Horgan et al (2005) which established that employees with alcohol-related problems have health care costs that are double of those of their peers. Other findings of Horgan et al (2005) which are also in line with the current findings revealed that individuals who abuse alcohol use four times as many hospital days as non-drinkers. Frone (2003) also reported that almost half of all emergency room visits for trauma and/or injury are alcohol-related. Besides, the findings of Ballantyne and Mao (2004) are consistent with the current findings, which indicate that excessive consumption of alcohol puts employees at risk for developing a range of costly physical health problems, such as liver disease, heart disease, cancer, pancreatitis, breast cancer, and fetal alcohol syndrome.

3.1.1 Respondents Views on Substance Abuse among Employees

Respondents were asked if they had an idea on the existence and the abuse of the following substances among employees at the workplace: Cannabis or marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, pethidine, codeine morphine, alcohol, cigarette, khat and inhalants. In response, 90 (60%) respondents claimed to have an idea of the stated drugs, while 60 respondents representing 40% had no idea of these drugs. Respondents were further asked to indicate if their workplace has problems attributable to alcohol or any of the above stated drugs. In response, 63 respondents representing 42% attested to the fact that their workplace has problems attributable to alcohol and other drugs, while 49 (32%) respondents claimed their workplace had no problems attributable to drugs. Meanwhile, 38 respondents representing 25% could not determine if their workplace have problems attributable to alcohol or any of the stated drugs. The current findings supports the findings of Merrick (2007) which stated that an average of 10% to 12% of the workforce in any given company abuse drugs. It is also evident in history that humans have used drugs of one sort or another for thousands of years according to Butler (2009). Again, the current finding is in line with the findings of Doweiko (2006) which revealed that 1 out of 6 workers has a drug problem. The findings of Frone (2003) also noted that 10% to 15% of all employees are dependent on drugs and /or alcohol.

In response to the question why employees abuse these substances, 37 (24%) respondents claimed they are used to reduce stress, while 34 (22%) respondents felt substances are abused because of social and peer pressures.  On the other hand, 29 respondents representing 19% stated that employees abuse alcohol because they believe it can modify the moods of people when consumed. 25 respondents representing 16% said that employees abuse substances to enhance their work performance, while another 25 (16%) respondents felt that employees abuse substances purposely for socialization and fun. This is illustrated in table 5 below.

Table 5: Respondents View on the Reasons Employees’ Abuse Substances

Respondents View Frequency Percent
They believed that alcohol is an effective means of modifying moods. 29 19
Social and peer pressures 34 22
Substances are used in order to reduce stress 37 24
To enhance performance 25 16
For socialization and fun 25 16
Total 150 100.0

Source: Field Data 2010

The findings in this study are in line with the findings of Hall (1996) which indicates that varieties of substances are used in order to reduce stress. The current findings on the causes of substance abuse support the findings of Leigh and Stacy (1994), which states that people consume alcohol for what are perceived as benefits to quality of life, such as relaxation, sociability, stress reduction, and greater sense of psychological well being. The findings of Pernanen (1991) are also in line with the present findings which indicate that the need to remove feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or depression can cause one to seek a chemical solution to the problem. Similarly, Caudill and Marlatt (1975) emphasized that social and peer pressures can result in patterns of substance usage that define where, when, and how much of the chemical is used. This is not different from the present finding, which indicates that substances are abused because of social and peer pressures.

3.1.2 The Type of Substances Mostly Abused by Employees

Respondents were asked to state the type of substances mostly abused by employees of the company.  In response, 53 (32.9%) respondents stated alcohol as the substance mostly abused by employees of the company. On the other hand, 25 (15.5%) respondents each indicated prescription drugs and cigarette to be the substances mostly abused by employees of the company. Twenty two (22) respondents, representing 13.6% felt marijuana is the substance mostly abused in the company, while 18 respondents each representing 11% said cocaine and LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) are the substances mostly abused by the employees of the company. A total of 32 respondents did not respond to this particular question. The current finding on the type of substances mostly abused by employees at workplaces is alcohol. This is in line with the previous findings of Arthur (2009) which indicates that numerous substances including alcohol, cocaine, LSD, marijuana and prescription drugs can be abused by addicts who seek a high. Some substances are uppers, while others are downers. Some addicts use one and then the other to bring themselves up or down. The findings of Ohene (2008) indicated that substances abused include cannabis, crack, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, pethidine, codeine, morphine, khat and inhalants, which include glue, petrol and thinner. Another finding of Ohene (2008) indicated that alcoholism was on the increase with pito being the most widely used among both children and adults in the Upper West Region of Ghana. These findings are consistent with the present findings.

3.1.3 The Effect of Substance Abuse on Employees’ Performance and the Company’s Output

Respondents were asked to state the impact substance abuse will have on the performance of the company and its employees.  In response, 36 respondents representing 21.8% stated that substance abuse has contributed to lower productivity and general performance of the company, while 35 (21.2%) respondents felt that substance abuse impairs employees’ judgment and decisions.  On the other hand, 30 respondents representing 18.2% said substance abuse leads to excessive use of medical benefits. Twenty five (25) respondents representing 15.2% stated that substance abuse brings about high absenteeism and high turnover rates.  The study also revealed that 20 (12.1%) respondents were of the view that substance abuse leads to fatal occupational injuries, while 19 respondents, representing 11.5% said the use of substances bring about depression and trauma. It is important to indicate that the above analysis recorded higher frequency because some of the respondents stated more than one impact substance abuse will have on the performance of the company and its employees. This is illustrated in table 6 below.

Table 6: Respondents Views on the Effects of Substance Abuse

Respondents View Frequency Percent
High absenteeism and turnover rates 25 15.2
Fatal occupational injuries 20 12.1
Excessive use of medical benefits 30 18.2
Substance use disorders, depression and trauma 19 11.5
Lower job productivity and performance 36 21.8
Impairs an employee’s judgment and decisions 35 21.2
Total 165 100.0

Source: Field Data 2010

The findings of this study is in line with the findings of Doweiko (2006) which revealed that drug abusers on average cost an employer $7,000 – $10,000 per employee annually and these employees are absent up to 16 times more often and are 1/3 less productive. The present findings is also consistent with the findings of Frone (2003), which indicated that more than 60 percent of adults know someone who has reported for work under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drug abuse in the workplace costs American Businesses nearly $100 billion a year in lost productivity, high absenteeism and turnover rates, on and off-the-job accidents, excessive use of medical benefits, theft and property damage. The findings of Larson et al (2007) indicated that injury is one of the many adverse consequences of substance use and misuse, and substance use and misuse are therefore often suspected to contribute to occupational injuries. These findings are consistent with the present findings. Mao (2007) reported that an estimated $21 billion was spent in the United States for treatment of substance-related disorders in 2003.

Besides, Gfroerer (2007) contends that the costs of substance abuse are high for employers. In addition to higher absenteeism and lower job productivity and performance, substance abuse also leads to greater health care expenses for injuries and illnesses. Hernandez (2009) also reported that a large number of drug addicts are employed today and they are more vulnerable to accidents at the workplace. Hernandez’s (2009) findings also revealed that drug abuse impairs an employee’s judgment and coordination, which leads to increased risk of accidents, and reduced productivity. It is also evident in the findings of Arthur (2009) that as heavy drinkers or drug users become more unreliable, their absenteeism increases while their productivity diminishes. These findings are not farfetched from the present findings.

3.1.4 Measures to Address Substance Abuse in Workplaces

In response to the question of measures to address the problem of substance abuse in workplaces, 56 (34%) respondents suggested that awareness programmes should be regularly organized for employees.  Meanwhile, 29 respondents each representing 17.6% felt that the company should have in place periodic drug testing programmes for employees of the company and also there should be regular psychotherapy for employees with symptoms of drug or alcohol related problems.  Also, 27 respondents representing 16.4% suggested that clinicians must build a database on substance abuse to inform policy makers on strategies required to curb the menace. Lastly, 23 respondents representing 14% suggested that substance abusers should be subjected to tougher punitive measures to deter employees from engaging in substance abuse.  It is important to indicate that the above analysis recorded higher frequency because some of the respondents stated more than one measure that can address the problem of substance abuse in the workplace.

Table 7: Respondents’ View on Measures to address Substance abuse in Workplaces

Respondents View Frequency Percent
Regular psychotherapy for employees that show symptoms of drug or alcohol problems. 29 17.6
Clinicians must build a database on substances abuse to inform policy makers on strategies required to curb the menace. 27 16.4
Awareness programmes should be regularly organized for employees 56 34
The company should have in place periodic drug testing programmes for employees of the company. 29 17.6
Punitive measures should be put in place 23 14
Total 164 100.0

Source: Field Data 2010

In response to the statement that drug test should be conducted when selecting employees for job openings, 38 respondents representing 25% agree to the statement, while 37 (24%) respondents strongly agree to the statement and 30 respondents representing 20% remained neutral to the statement.  On the contrary 23 respondents representing 15% disagreed to the statement, while 22 respondents representing 14% strongly disagreed to the statement. This is illustrated in figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Respondents’ View on Drug Test for Recruiting and Selecting Employees

Source: Field Data 2010

The findings of Gfroerer (2007) suggest that employers can address substance use and abuse in their employee population by implementing drug-free workplace and other written substance abuse policies. Tumwine (2008) on the other hand stated that clinicians in Africa and developing countries must build a database on smoking, alcohol and substance abuse through research to enable them inform and advise policy makers on the appropriate strategy required to curb the menace. Hernandez (2009) also revealed that awareness programmes and drug testing help in avoiding drug abuse at the workplace. Increased awareness is key to drug free environment, which makes employees understand the magnitude of destruction caused due to drug abuse at workplace. Periodic drug abuse testing increases awareness levels. Finally, Parks and Marlatt (1999) established that cognitive-based therapies can provide a variety of techniques that the patient can use to either minimize the temptation to use a substance or to choose not to use the substance. These findings are in support of the current findings.

4 Conclusion

This study reveals that majority of employees of the Ghana Airport Company are familiar with substances like Cannabis or marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, pethidine, codeine morphine, alcohol, cigarette, khat and inhalants. However, alcohol is the substance mostly abused by employees of the Ghana Airport Company probably because it is the most common and affordable substance in the Ghanaian society. Alcohol is warmly embraced in our social gatherings such as funerals, marriage and naming ceremonies, and at birthday parties. There is no doubt that Ohene (2008) reported that alcoholism was on the increase with pito being the most widely used among both children and adults in the Upper West Region of Ghana. This notwithstanding, employees abuse substances because they believe they help reduce stress; they are effective means of modifying moods; they enhance performance; for the purposes of socialization and fun; and due to social and peer pressure.

We also found that employees who abuse substances are less likely to perform effectively than non-substance users in organizations. As indicated, little drug and alcohol use can cause performance impairment (Zumpano, 2009). Substance abuse can contribute to lower productivity and general performance of the company; and impairs employees’ judgment and decisions, since drug abusers are less likely to exercise a good sense of judgment in the performance of their tasks and responsibilities.

There is a need for the company to institute drug and alcohol testing as part of the company’s recruitment and selection policies. This will help to minimize the problems of low productivity, high absenteeism and turnover rates, on-and off-the-job accidents, excessive use of medical benefits, theft and property damage. It should be noted that because drug testing is a sensitive issue, employers should be careful when undergoing this procedure to ensure that applicants and employees are treated fairly and reasonably all throughout the course of the test and even after.

With the ever increasing abuse of alcohol and other substances in the work environment, organisations must ensure that regular awareness programmes on the consequences of substance abuse are organized for the employees of their respective companies. Punitive measures must also be instituted in the company to deter potential substance abusers. Finally, substance abuse policy at the workplace should be drawn, implemented, evaluated and necessary corrective adjustment should be effected to make the policy effective. Consequently, those employees who obey this policy should be recognized and rewarded by the organization. A successful institution and implementation of the above measures will apparently bring about high productivity and also promote good corporate image.

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