An Update For The ACOEM Professional
As a medical professional you know the pandemic has exacerbated substance use.
Since COVID began, Psychemedics sees a changed landscape. Again.
Numbers don’t lie. Here are some worth knowing.
COVID Has Amplified The Risks.
If you need no other reason to reassess your drug testing policies and programs, consider these statistics. Using Department of Labor and Surgeon General data, the scale of a looming challenge gets a bit clearer.
Before COVID, there were approximately 164 Million people in the labor force. About 21 Million of those have a Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD). And various sources cite 70% as the percentage of people with SUD that are employed.
Total that up and you had nearly 15 Million people with SUD in the U.S. workforce. That was pre-COVID. What should we expect going forward?
Research sponsored by Millennium Health compared specimens before and during the COVID pandemic and found positive rates increasing 3.59% to 4.76% for cocaine, 3.80% to 7.32% for fentanyl, 1.29% to 2.09% for heroin, and 5.89% to 8.16% for methamphetamine.
Millennium’s report and CDC data on overdose deaths in 2020 point to the undeniable truth that COVID has increased SUD, and likely pushes the number of drug users in the labor pool significantly higher.
Are you prepared for the invisible opioid?
The DEA 2021 Drug Threat Assessment cites the flood of counterfeit drugs as an urgent threat. Cartels are broadly distributing counterfeit versions of Xanax, Oxycontin and other popular street drugs with fentanyl as the active ingredient.
- 2020 deaths by fentanyl overdose were up 40% over 2019
- Over 1 in 4 counterfeit pills that were seized by the DEA in one quarter contained lethal doses of fentanyl
- 80% of all opioid overdoses involve synthetics; mostly fentanyl
- Opioid prescriptions are down 40% in past five years, but opioid deaths are up in 2020…the street drugs are the difference.
Bringing the same sedating affects and threats as other opioids, fentanyl has no place in the workplace or on a campus. But the probability that they can slip past your drug screen is real because the 5-panel test that is the industry standard will not detect them.
They are the invisible opioids.
Resource Section: Read, View, Share
“Rebuilding a workplace after COVID-19”
At the outset of the pandemic, we created a page sharing data and some insights t0 help plan for the return of workers to more normal routines. And we created the eBook “Rebuilding A Workplace After COVID-19” to help understand threats and opportunities to overcome them. You can find information and download the eBook on our Rebuild A (Drug-Free) Workplace After COVID page.
“Are “new” substance abusers slipping by your drug test?”
Where substance abuse is concerned, all the data points to the same outcome. There will be more people using or abusing drugs after we return to more normal routines than there were before COVID struck. In this short blog we share three reasons you may not be as well protected as you might think, and some questions every drug program administrator, medical director or occupational health professional should be asking today.
Reading Time: 7 minutes
“Will your testing program find the invisible opioid?”
Opioid deaths in 2020 were again on an upward trajectory. But prescriptions for CPD opioids are down 40% over the past five years. Why are deaths up? Street drugs containing fentanyl are responsible for 80% of all opioids deaths, and the threat is increasing according the both CDC and DEA reports. This blog talks about the threat and some actions to take.
Reading Time: 7 minutes
“Is your workplace protected from fentanyl?”
Fentanyl is an exploding problem for those on the front lines of the drugs epidemic. It has become the active ingredient in counterfeit pills. But—-unlike other opioids—fentanyl goes undetected by standard drug tests. This video shares the risks and insights on how to meet the challenge head on.
Viewing Time: 1 min/38 sec
“Counterfeiters create deadly fakes containing fentanyl.”
Drug distributors have shifted their focus and are flooding the streets with counterfeit Xanax, Percocet other fakes that are actually fentanyl, pressed into pills to look like popular drugs. This short video gives you insight on why this is such a dangerous development for recreational drug users…and employers.
Viewing Time: 2 min/12 sec
“Does a high detection rate impact Recruiting?”
This video is a “must share” with any talent recruiter or HR professional.
In this short video, three Safety Vice Presidents talk about short and long term effects on recruiting when more applicants were eliminated from the recruiting pool for drug usage. The impacts are not what you might expect.
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