opiates

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.

Mapping Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

by Nicole Jupe on June 9, 2017

Which drugs are popular in my county? How does workplace drug use in my state compare to the rest of the country? Has drug use in the American workforce changed significantly during the past decade? Employers, media, government, and policymakers frequently look to Quest Diagnostics for insights about their specific geographies. These inquiries are especially prevalent this year with workplace drug use at a 12-year high.

Powered by data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI), our new interactive map illustrates workplace urine drug test positivity by drug type for the past 10 years. You can search all 50 states for the six of the most common illicit substances: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP.) This innovative tool drills down to positivity percentages by 3-digit zip code and helps to depict regional, drug, and time-based positivity rate changes.

Reporters covering latest DTI findings used the map to compare local drug use trends to the national average, which vary by state and by drug preference. For example:

  • The Washington Post reported that the first two states to legalize marijuana, Colorado and Washington, outpaced the national average for urine drug test marijuana positivity.
  • Illinois’ positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees’ drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state, according to The Chicago Tribune.
  • Positivity rates were higher than the national 4.2 percent positivity rate in Kansas (5.1 percent) and Missouri (4.9 percent), wrote The Kansas City Star.
  • Baltimore workers tested positive 2.5 times more often for heroin than workers nationally and more than 30 percent more often than the national average for marijuana, according to The Baltimore Sun.
  • Alabama and Oregon had the highest rates of drug use with 6.3 percent, and Hawaii had the lowest rates at just 2.7 percent, reported Vice.
  • California’s positivity rate of 3.9 percent was lower than the national rate, according to Daily Republic.
  • Four percent of New York workers tested positive for drugs in 2016, which is lower than the national average according to Newsday.
  • NJ.com reported that a greater percentage of New Jersey employees flunked their work-related drug tests last year than in at any point since 2002.

To see how your hometown ranks, search by zip code at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Download the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

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

Increases in Illicit Drugs, Including Cocaine, Drive Workforce Drug Positivity to Highest Rate in 12 Years

May 16, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

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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 […]

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Fentanyl Crisis Continues

April 26, 2017Drug Testing

Without the careful monitoring of a licensed physician, opioids can be deadly. The National Center on Health Statistics shows that in 2015 alone, more than 17,000 people died from opioid pain relievers, in addition to the 19,000 who died as a result of their use of heroin and other illicit opioids. In total, the percentage […]

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2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

April 14, 2017News

An ambulance blazes by a sea of idling cars in the midst of evening rush-hour. Weaving through traffic, the EMT’s singular goal is to arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible. The passenger is a victim of accidental prescription drug poisoning. This scenario plays out daily in cities across the country. In fact, […]

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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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Helping to Keep Medical Professionals Drug-Free

October 26, 2016Drug Testing

Many individuals misuse prescription drugs to stay alert, self-medicate, increase energy or performance at work, and manage stress or pain. Substance abuse crosses all industries and professions, including healthcare. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reinforces this fact by saying, “The last people we would suspect of drug addiction are healthcare professionals—those people trusted with […]

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National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

October 14, 2016News

Many people use prescription medications as part of their daily routine to help treat disease and improve their health. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the most frequently prescribed drugs fall in the “therapeutic class,” which includes Analgesics, Antiheperlipidemic agents,  and Antidepressants like Zoloft and Lexapro. Prescription painkillers are […]

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Finding the ‘Root’ of Prescription Drug Addiction

October 11, 2016News

Genetics, smoking, drug abuse, sugar, and home care routines like brushing and flossing can all play a role in the health of your teeth. What happens if you face an issue? Depending on the severity, it may be as simple as your dentist filling a cavity or more invasive treatments such as a root canal […]

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