Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index

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.

Detect marijuana more often using oral fluid

by Nicole Jupe on September 27, 2017

As state marijuana laws continue to change, it’s not surprising that marijuana use and drug test positivity are also on the rise. An estimated 24 million adults (aged 12 or older) currently use marijuana, according to latest data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

New technology in oral fluid testing has proven effective in detecting recent drug use, especially for marijuana. In the last 3 years, data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ revealed that marijuana positivity has increased nearly 75% in oral fluid drug tests in the general U.S. workforce. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology showed that oral fluid testing using Oral-Eze® provided remarkable drug recovery and stability of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the predominant analyte detected in oral fluid testing when an individual uses marijuana.

Our Marijuana detection using oral fluid drug testing white paper discusses this popular topic and examines:

  • Shifting views about cannabis in our country
  • Trends in marijuana detection in the U.S. workforce
  • Positivity rates in states with recreational marijuana use laws
  • Marijuana positivity by drug test type
  • Benefits of screening with the Oral-Eze collection system

A significant advantage of oral fluid testing is an observed collection, which discourages cheating and tampering by a donor. Although oral fluid testing has a slightly shorter window of detection than urine, it demonstrates higher positivity rates for almost all drugs and more than twice the positivity rates for marijuana. That said, oral fluid can be used for a broad range of testing scenarios, especially pre-employment drug tests.

Download our new white paper.

For more information about drug testing, visit Oral-Eze.com or contact us online.

Risk Management: New trends in workforce drug use

August 2, 2017Drug Testing

In the early afternoon of Jan. 4, 1987, an Amtrak train crashed into a locomotive 18 miles northeast of Baltimore, causing 16 deaths and dozens of injuries. In post-accident drug and alcohol testing, the engineer driving the train tested positive for marijuana, although no one noticed anything unusual about his behavior before the crash that […]

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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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Top 10 Drug Testing Tips for HR

June 16, 2017Drug Testing

Human Resources professionals serve as trusted advisors offering insights and guidance on a variety of topics such as staffing, benefits, compensation, and employee engagement. Ultimately, the role centers on making a positive impact for the workforce and retaining high-performing employees who drive results. As the labor market tightens, the importance of effective recruitment strategies has […]

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Mapping Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

June 9, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

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Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

June 1, 2017Drug Testing

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant native to South America where many chew its leaves to squash pain, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. By the 1880s, doctors as famous as Sigmund Freud were studying cocaine as a “miracle drug” as an anesthetic for surgery and for a variety of health conditions including anxiety, addiction, 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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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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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. […]

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