Blog Series

As one of the nation’s leading safety advocates, the National Safety Council (NSC) spotlights issues in an effort to “eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.” The organization has identified prescription drug misuse as one of its key safety issues because of the alarming rise in addiction rates, ER visits, overdoses, and fatalities. Dr. Don Teater, Medical Advisor for the National Safety Council, has emphatically stated, “Painkillers don’t kill pain. They kill people.”

This public safety issue also weighs heavily on the workplace, impacting more than 70 percent of U.S. employers. According to research published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, the non-medical use of prescription opioids cost the United States approximately $42 billion dollars in lost productivity in 2006. Five drugs in particular, OxyContin®, oxycodone, hydrocodone, propoxyphene, and methadone, accounted for two-thirds of the total economic burden.

The NSC reported results from its recent survey, which examined employers’ perceptions and experiences with prescription drugs. Because of substance misuse, employers face challenges with absenteeism, decreased job performance, injuries, positive drug test results, co-workers using, borrowing, or selling prescription drugs at work, and a negative impact on employee morale. In addition, the NSC survey data shows:

  • 81 percent of employers lack a drug-free workplace policy
  • 76 percent of employers do not offer training to identify drug misuse
  • 41 percent of employers do not drug test for synthetic opioids

Employers want to help employees, yet only 19 percent of employers answered that they were “extremely prepared” to deal with the misuse or abuse of prescription medications. Managers cited that they need additional clarification regarding policy, benefits, insurance, treatment options, and simply identifying warning signs of a potential problem.

How can the remaining 81 percent of employers get informed and gain confidence when facing this challenge? Survey authors suggest that companies add specialized workplace training for supervisors, implement drug testing programs, and strengthen their policies with more precise language about drug use without a prescription, employee impairment, and return-to-work protocols.

The NSC has amassed a comprehensive collection of resources such as drug fact sheets, strategy guides, videos, graphics, and survivor stories to bring greater awareness to the issue. Download the kit for employers.

Download our Drug Testing Guide.

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

An Exploration of Addiction: The Teen Years

by Pablo Bolanos on May 5, 2017

Recreational drug and alcohol use is oftentimes perceived as harmless, non-habit-forming behavior. In reality millions suffer from substance-abuse disorders that surfaced under the mask of recreational use. In this installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examine how addiction can take hold when our brains are at their most vulnerable and when life is at its most confusing – the adolescent years.

The root of our addictive behavior can be traced back to a time when our lives were ruled by raw emotion and thoughtless impulses thanks in large part to a developing brain. Dr. Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health studied the brains of teenagers and discovered a second “period of over-production of synapses” thought to only take place in babies. The study focuses on the surprising late-childhood growth and maturity of the frontal cortex, supporting the common belief that adolescents take more risks because their brains undergo tremendous change during these years.

Adding to the complexity of a maturing brain, teens actively look for their place in the world. We are a social species, who long to be part of a tribe of other like individuals. We need to belong. This biological fact dates back millennia and its purest form is manifested in teenagers, how they bully each other, how they celebrate together, and how they collaborate as peers in art, theater, music, and community service.

However, an immature brain coupled with a primitive drive to belong and unrelenting societal pressure may create a perfect storm for teenagers to seek out drugs and alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), early abuse often includes tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, and prescription drugs such as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medicines.

Aside from biological reasons, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids lists some reasons why teens may experiment with drugs and alcohol:

  • Access – Teenagers see a lot of people using various substances. Coupled with peer pressure, drug and alcohol use can seem to be a normal part of the teenage experience.
  • Popular media – A study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that only 9% of the audience (primarily 17 – 19 year olds) of a popular pro-marijuana handle associated risky health behaviors with drugs and alcohol use. The rest of the perceptions were positive and correlated substance abuse as light-hearted and humorous.
  • Escape and self-medication – The teenage years are notorious for roller coaster-like emotions, a fluctuating sense of self-worth, and in many instances depression. Given a chance to take something that may alleviate these negative emotions, many can’t resist.
  • Boredom – To fill a void, kill time, or simply to relate to like-minded teens, alcohol and drugs may provide a quick cure for boredom and a path towards bonding with peers.
  • Rebellion – Rebellion may be manifested in the use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Lack of confidence – As adults, we’re familiar with the term “liquid courage.” The same principle applies to teens who are shy, lack confidence, and don’t naturally fit in. The use of drugs and alcohol can be seen as a solution to social anxiety.
  • Misinformation – Friends are powerful influencers and teens can oftentimes be willing to believe a friend’s misinformation about substances like marijuana, alcohol, pills, or even LSD.

Adolescent drug use can have long-lasting effects on the developing brain and may interfere with family, positive peer relationships, and school performance. Prevention through education, communication, and resources like NIDA for teens can boost awareness and understanding about how substance abuse and addiction can affect both life and work.

In this series, we continue to add facts to the conversation and help to better inform parents, caretakers, educators, employers, and those who may be struggling with addiction and substance-abuse disorders. To learn more about this series, read our introductory post.

To learn about common drugs of abuse, visit our website or contact us online.

Series: An Exploration of Addiction

March 21, 2017Blog Series

The term “recreational” defines as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working. Skiing, knitting, sporting leagues, and book clubs are examples of recreational activities that can enhance our overall life experience. Recreational is also a word used to describe the casual use of mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. Because recreational […]

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By the Numbers: Going Green with eCCF

March 1, 2017By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we examine the environmental impact of moving from paper-based custody and control forms (CCF) to electronic custody and control forms (eCCF). Paper-based CCFs have been a mainstay of the drug testing […]

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Weeding Out the Facts Webinar Recap

February 21, 2017Illicit drugs

Employers face challenges as states continue to pass marijuana legislation, while the substance is still illegal under federal law.  In our recent webinar, two highly-regarded industry experts, Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, and D. Faye Caldwell, Attorney at Law, Caldwell Everson, presented facts and insight about marijuana and the workplace […]

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Data Shows Escalating Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

January 24, 2017Drug Testing

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) is arguably the industry’s longest standing, most frequently relied upon resource for drug trends in the American workforce by policymakers, media, employers, and the general public. The DTI examines positivity by drug category, testing reason, and specimen type. Since its inception in 1988, this report has analyzed millions […]

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Webinar: Marijuana & the Workplace

January 9, 2017Webinars

Voters passed new measures this election season to allow recreational and medicinal marijuana use in their states, bringing the count to 29 states where cannabis is “legal” in some form. Research also indicates relaxing attitudes towards marijuana and a 2015 Gallup Poll showed that 1 in 4 people have tried the drug. The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing […]

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Post-Accident Positivity Climbs Among American Workers

January 4, 2017Drug Testing

Our scientific experts have analyzed and published annual workplace drug testing data and insights since 1988 in the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI). After the initiation of drug testing programs by employers in the 1980s, overall positivity rates began to decline. Employers saw how the power of drug-free workplace programs deterred employee substance abuse […]

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Ask the Experts: Getting Started with eCCF

December 21, 2016Webinars

Our recent Gain the eCCF Advantage webinar was well received by many in the drug testing industry. Throughout the presentation, our audience posed a number of questions. Answers to the most frequent and important inquiries from the webinar are provided below as part of our ongoing effort to simplify the complexities of electronic Custody and […]

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By the Numbers: Heroin Positivity Continues to Rise

December 15, 2016By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we look at the heroin positivity rate. Headlines continue to put a spotlight on startling statistics about heroin addiction and sometimes feature shocking stories to warn the public of the drug’s dangers. The […]

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