Drugs & Alcohol

Accept the Challenge: Drug-free Work Week

by Pablo Bolanos on October 13, 2017

Today someone, somewhere in the U.S., will miss work, dodge deadlines, shift their work to others, and eventually leave a position vacant. Drug and alcohol abuse can be one of the contributing factors for absenteeism, lost productivity, and eventually turnover.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 7% of adults employed full-time and 9% of those employed part-time currently use illegal drugs. In fact, more than 60% of adults know someone who has come to work under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Additionally, American companies lose billions of dollars each year due to problems related to employee alcohol and drug use on the job, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As a result, many employers have implemented drug-free workplace programs to help filter out drug and alcohol use to protect their company and employees.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor initiated the National Drug-Free Work Week in an effort to improve safety and well-being in the construction industry. In the past decade, a wide range of industries have joined the cause to help emphasize the importance of a drug-free workforce. The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance (NDWA) has taken the reigns and developed helpful resources to heighten awareness and provide education about drug use in the workplace.

This year’s Drug-Free Work Week runs from October 16-21. Some available campaign materials include:

  • Ideas to support Drug-Free Work Week
  • Marijuana and driving
  • Marijuana in the workplace
  • Prescription drugs and the workplace
  • Parent resources

You can help by spreading the word to encourage your organization to participate in activities designed to encourage a safe, drug-free, healthy work environment – reflecting the true spirit of Drug-Free Work Week.

Download resources from the NDWA website.

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

10 facts about opioids

by Nicole Jupe on October 10, 2017

10 facts about opioids He’s down to his last Vicodin. His chronic pain pushes him to visit a second doctor to get more painkillers to ease his agony. She sympathizes with her exhausted neighbor and shares some pills to bring sleep back to her restless nights. Just as her husband suffers from a knee injury after a pickup basketball game, she remembers the leftover pills from the birth of baby number three in the back of the cabinet. These are common scenarios because when we feel pain, we want it to go away. But, the misuse of prescriptions remains at the center of our nation’s opioid epidemic.

Misuse occurs when a prescribed drug is taken in a way that is not consistent with a physician’s orders. For many, deviating from a doctor’s instructions may lead to dependence on painkillers and, in the worst case scenario, seeking out to find street drugs like heroin or fentanyl when the refills run out. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has mounting research showing that many people switch from prescription opioids to heroin because of easier access, lower prices, and greater purity.

The government and scientific communities are studying what has become our fastest-growing drug problem since the explosion of crack cocaine in the early 1980s. Their work seeks solutions to a crisis that impacts millions of lives every day. In an effort to centralize the latest news, we have compiled headlines and data about substance abuse, addiction, overdose deaths, and the health consequences of our country’s opioid epidemic.

  1. The National Safety Council (NSC) identified prescription drug misuse as a key issue because the epidemic affects 7 in 10 U.S. employers. Data from the NSC shows that 41% of employers do not currently drug test for synthetic opioids.
  2. Opioid users miss twice as many days of work as people with addictions to other drugs. An employee with a pain medicine disorder misses an average of 29 days in a year compared to 14 days missed due to alcohol abuse, according to National Public Radio (NPR).
  3. Opioid use by American men may account for a 20% decline in their participation in the U.S. labor force, according to a study by Princeton University looking at 15 years of data. The economist says “nearly half of men in their prime worker ages not in the labor force take prescription painkillers daily.”
  4. Half of Americans (52%) tested in a recent Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study misused their prescription medications. The study also found dangerous drug combinations of opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol are common.
  5. Overall positivity rates for heroin increased 146% between 2011 and 2015 in the general U.S. workforce, according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™.
  6. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that opioids are shortening the life span of Americans by 2½ months.
  7. A report from Pacira Pharmaceuticals said middle-aged women (aged 40 to 59 years old) are prescribed more opioids than other groups and twice as many as men in their same age group. Mostly prescribed post-surgery, these group accounts for 3.3 billion unused pills.
  8. CVS became the first national pharmacy chain to limit opioid prescriptions to 7 days for certain conditions. The restriction also applies to patients who are new to pain therapy. Also, Cigna announced that it will not cover the opioid OxyContin for customers who are insured through a job, starting in 2018.
  9. Many lawmakers are working on legislation to help. One example is Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, who proposed a three-day limit on prescribed opioids in his state. Many states control the substances that are dispensed using an electronic database in a prescription drug monitoring program.
  10. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “sales of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report.”

Despite the resources available to increase awareness and help those struggling with substance use disorders, current statistics show that the crisis is far from over. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death among Americans under age 50 and researchers may have even underestimated overdose deaths this year with the loss of life trending to reach a record high.

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

What was in that brownie?

September 12, 2017Drug Testing

You know the smell. The someone’s-smoking-pot-smell. But did you know that, when baked, marijuana can become odorless, undetectable, and may even be more potent than when it is smoked1? Unfortunately, the Davis Regional Medical Center emergency room staff unwittingly learned this lesson firsthand. In April 2017, an employee unknowingly brought in baked goods that were […]

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Addiction Recovery: A Celebration of Life

September 6, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

“Recovery makes me feel like that empty space in my heart is finally filled. I have the motivation and drive that I have never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I believe I have a purpose, and I am so much more than just a hopeless junkie sentenced to a life of […]

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America’s favorite illicit drug: marijuana

July 7, 2017Illicit drugs

Marijuana is the product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, containing the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite its illegal status, the drug reigns as America’s favorite and most commonly detected illicit drug. Since the 1920s, marijuana has been the subject of myths and propaganda while also being glamorized by pop culture, movies, and television. Attitudes relaxed in […]

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Fighting Opioid Prescription Addiction

June 29, 2017News

Opioid addiction can begin with the best of intentions, like managing pain. The middle-aged male visits the ER for a back sprain. A typical teenager has her wisdom teeth removed by the oral surgeon. To minimize discomfort, the healthcare professional may prescribe 20 or more hydrocodone pills. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and […]

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Employers Paying the Price of Substance Abuse

May 9, 2017Drug Testing

Substance abuse in the workplace is increasing. For the past several years, data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ has shown an increase in drug test positivity in the American workforce. We knew that employee drug use was costly to businesses in turnover, absenteeism, accidents, and insurance. However, the actual cost employers bear for […]

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Common Questions about Marijuana

April 28, 2017Illicit drugs

Many employers continue to ask questions about marijuana in the era of state legislation surrounding medical and recreational use statutes. In an effort to provide information about topics related to the science, drug testing, policy, and the law, Quest Diagnostics experts have provided responses to the some of the most frequently asked questions we receive […]

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Side-Effects of Quitting Marijuana

April 20, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

April is a month when avid marijuana consumers, distributors, and marketers ramp up their efforts to reach audiences as they hype up the unofficial pot smoker’s holiday – 4/20. It’s possible that more first-time users will try the drug this year than in year’s past because of relaxing attitudes and increasing societal tolerance towards marijuana. […]

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Cannabinol State Laws

March 28, 2017Drug Testing

Chemically complex, the cannabis sativa plant, known as marijuana, has hundreds of active compounds and cannabinoids. Ratios of chemicals and potency can differ based on the age of the plant, the origin, and the method of cultivation. Some of the more well-known chemicals in marijuana include: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Primary psychoactive ingredient that produces a “high” Cannabidiol […]

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