hydrocodone

Fighting Opioid Prescription Addiction

by Steve Beller on June 29, 2017

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 Human Services (HHS), estimates that on average, more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are written and dispensed each day in the U.S.

Addiction has skyrocketed as a result. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that in 2015, “Two million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain medicines and over 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose.” NIDA also found that the (negative) impact to the U.S. economy due to prescription opioid misuse to be more than $78 billion a year.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new guideline in 2016 for the prescription of opioids. Primary-care providers are discouraged from turning to opioids to treat acute pain. The guideline advises doctors to “start low and go slow.” Doctors are urged to prescribe the lowest effective dose in the smallest quantity needed for the time period when pain is severe enough to warrant a narcotic. If an opioid is prescribed, the CDC recommends a faster-acting medication with a short duration of pain relief, rather than slower-acting, extended-release drugs with a longer duration. Adapting to these new guidance may prove challenging for doctors who, throughout their careers, practiced aggressive pain management.

State and the federal government are joining the fight by either evaluating or enacting legislation to limit opioid prescriptions. An article from Bloomberg View reports, “In New Jersey, a patient’s first course of opioids is now limited to five days (30 has been the norm) and the lowest effective dose. A similar bill in the U.S. Senate would limit first prescriptions to seven days. The Senate is also considering taxing prescription opioids to help pay for addiction-treatment services, as are lawmakers in Alaska and California.”

Our country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Media attention provides much needed awareness and entities like the CDC deliver education on how to identify, combat, and positively impact the growing issue. Where awareness and education fall short, guidelines and laws aimed at reshaping how physicians address pain management will make the biggest long-term impact. Because of all opioid- related deaths, nearly half of them involve a prescription.

Follow our blog to laern more about opioids and the impact of the opioid abuse.

For information on drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. It has been published annually for more than 25 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. This year’s report will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) annual conference, a gathering of industry professionals focused on safety, regulatory affairs, ethics, and workplace drug testing education from all over the world.

In examining the latest data, Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics, said, “This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations.” He noted the following key findings from millions of workplace drug test results.

  • Overall positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent, a five percent relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0 percent, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5 percent).
  • Cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine use is up broadly among the U.S. workforce across multiple drug test specimen types and testing populations.
  • Cocaine positivity increased 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent.
  • The positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment urine drug tests in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces.
  • In Colorado and Washington, the overall urine positivity rate for marijuana outpaced the national average in 2016 for the first time since the recreational statutes took effect.
  • Year over year marijuana positivity increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing. In addition, positivity increased in both urine and hair testing in the general U.S. workforce.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, methamphetamine positivity climbed 64 percent in the general U.S. workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.
  • Heroin detection, indicated by the presence of the 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) metabolite, plateaued in the general U.S. workforce while prescription opiate detection declines.

“Once again, the DTI statistics reveal the on-going threat to workplace safety posed by substance abuse. While the national dialogue swirls around marijuana and opiate issues, we find cocaine—a substance with well-established dangers—continuing its troubling upswing not just in the general workforce, but in safety-sensitive jobs with federally-mandated testing,” said Matt Nieman, General Counsel, Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace and Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C. “That positive test results for cocaine persist, let alone are increasing, should serve as a reminder to employers and employees that there is no substitute for vigilance in any effective effort to thwart the potential impacts of workplace substance abuse.”

Along with this year’s data, we are offering an interactive map to illustrate overall positivity and positivity by drug for the past 10 years in urine testing. Users can search by both zip code and year for six illicit drugs: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Workplace drug testing promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees. Our analysis suggests that employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be aware of the potential for drug use among their workforce.

Media coverage for the Drug Testing Index includes an exclusive story by The Wall Street Journal. Other press featuring the DTI includes: The Washington Post, CNBC’s Closing BellTIME magazineFortune, CBS Money WatchViceMarketWatchThe Chicago Tribune, Facility Safety Management, Business InsuranceInsurance Journal, Daily Republic, FOX Denver,  Newsday, NJBIANew Jersey’s NJ.comPittsburgh Post-Gazette, North Nevada Business Weekly, Dayton Daily News, Brevard Times, The National Law Review, PoliticoThe TruckerHR DiveMedical Laboratory Observer: LabLineCrime Report, Drug ChronicleSteelers LoungeSector PublishingDaily Caller, Newsmax Wires, RTBulk Transporter, Lexology, Daily Chew, NCASJunior College, Industry Week, Salon, ExamOne blogWSJ: The 10-Point, Construction Equipment, EHS Today, Kansas City Star, Baltimore Sun, Human Resources Executive, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and USA TODAY Snapshot.

In addition, the Jimmy Kimmel Live show asked cited Quest Diagnostics data and in its Pedestrian Question segment asked people if they have ever been high at work.

Read the full press release for the latest DTI data as well as drug testing news and resources.

Download our new Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure and the this year’s DTI infographics.

For more information about drug testing, visit our QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI or contact us online.

Prescription Misuse Epidemic Affects 7 in 10 Employers

May 11, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

Read the full article →

Revisions to Federal Workplace Drug Testing

February 10, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

On January 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. More specifically, the notice expanded federal urine workplace drug testing to include four Schedule II drugs: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The effective date for the revised Guidelines is October 1, 2017. […]

Read the full article →

Fentanyl In the News

June 29, 2016Urine testing

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Used to treat pain, it is categorized as a Schedule II drug and carries a “black box warning” from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to call attention […]

Read the full article →

White House Addresses Opioid Abuse Epidemic

February 29, 2016News

For people with chronic and reoccurring pain, prescription opioids – like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone – not only relieve suffering, but can help support a normal lifestyle. However, prescription opioids can be just as addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs. While data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ revealed recent positivity rate declines for prescription […]

Read the full article →

Drug Testing Trends Video

August 14, 2015News

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) teems with insights about drug use patterns among American workers. Within the DTI, data from millions of drug tests is examined by drug type, employee category, testing reason, drug testing specimen type and geography. The latest DTI release showed the overall positivity rate increasing sharply, suggesting a potential […]

Read the full article →

The Prescription Drug Misuse Epidemic

July 13, 2015News

For people with chronic and reoccurring pain, prescription opioids – like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone – not only relieve suffering, but can help support a normal lifestyle, alleviate stress and improve sleep. However, prescription opioids can be just as addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs. While data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ revealed recent […]

Read the full article →

Series: Assessing Drug Use Trends in the United States – Opiates

April 22, 2015News

Due to the increasing use and abuse of illicit and prescription drugs, employers, public policy decision makers, law enforcement, media and the general public all have an interest in assessing past, current and emerging drug use trends. As such, this installment in our Assessing Drug Use Trends in the United States series uses several renowned […]

Read the full article →

Oxycodones Positivity Declines for the Second Consecutive Year

November 6, 2014News

For people with chronic and reoccurring pain, opioids, such as hydrocodone and oxycodones, not only relieve suffering, but can also help support a normal lifestyle, alleviate stress and improve sleep. These drugs work by reducing the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect the areas of the brain that control emotion, which diminishes […]

Read the full article →