painkillers

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.

Hair testing helps to protect safety

by Nicole Jupe on August 29, 2017

hair drug testingSafety remains a primary reason for drug testing, and that’s just as true in the U.S. as it is in Brazil. The Brazilian government faced serious challenges keeping its streets and highways safe with 40,000 traffic-related deaths annually. The dangers were reflected in data from the World Health Organization, which ranks Brazil fifth in the world for fatal car accidents. Brazilian lawmakers took action in the interest of safety and public health and enacted a mandatory “wide window of detection” test for drugs of abuse for professional drivers in 2016.

Our new case study discusses:

  • The history of drug use in Brazil
  • Advantages of hair drug testing
  • Early findings in overall drug positivity
  • Most commonly-detected drugs
  • U.S. testing regulations for transportation

Hair testing for drugs of abuse is the only drug testing method available that provides up to a 90-day drug use history. With an observed collection that is difficult to cheat, a hair test is the most effective way to evaluate long-term patterns of use, making it an excellent option for pre-employment or random drug testing programs.

Download our new case study about why Brazil chose hair drug testing.

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

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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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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Spotlight on the Prescription Drug Epidemic

June 16, 2016News

Autopsy results released earlier this month confirmed that a fentanyl overdose was the cause of death for 57 year old, multi-platinum recording artist – Prince. The death of such a prominent pop culture figure generated media headlines across the world, helping to bring public awareness about the prescription drug epidemic our country is facing. MarketWatch […]

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Painkiller Abuse and the Workplace

April 13, 2016News

“A Hidden Epidemic” was the cover story in last month’s issue of HR magazine. The article discusses the enormous toll prescription painkiller abuse is taking on the workplace. Author Dori Meinert interviewed several human resources professionals to gain perspective on why employees are grappling with addiction. Many employees may not seek help because they fear […]

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