The Big Three for 2020

Unwelcome Players Join The Leader Board

Don't let cocaine, methamphetamines and fentanyl sneak into your workplace.

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In the midst of a pandemic, our drug abuse epidemic persists.

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The COVID-19 pandemic struck at a time when we are already in the midst of an epidemic—of substance abuse. In fact, today it is the leading cause of death for people under age 50. Those are people are much of the labor pool for many employers. Particularly in the post-COVID restart of workplaces, there is risk lurking in that pool of potential employees.

There is every reason to believe that, without sustained diligence, losing ground in a drive to the Drug-Free workplace is your risk. Drug abuse trends are fluid, and patterns of abuse have been changing through the past several years.  Drug program administrators and HR staff should be aware that the threat is evolving and that post-COVID we should expect that some workers will return with new or exacerbated dependencies.

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Numbers Tell The Story.

Opioids decline. Others move in.

We believe an upward trend in psychostimulants usage—they surpassed opioids in 2018—will continue, especially given a labor pool that has been subjected to stresses and uncertainties that will drive many to self-medicate. A continuing rise in methamphetamine availability coupled with prescriber reluctance to distribute opioids have made meth a more accessible and increasingly popular choice among those in the prime demographic for workplace recruiters.

Beyond methamphetamines, cocaine use is also projected to continue its rise—with consequences driving the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue a blunt warning.

“Due to the ongoing proliferation of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids into the expanded domestic cocaine supply, cocaine-involved deaths will continue to rise for the near future, with the potential to reach epidemic levels previously only associated with opioids in the next few years.”

Both trends make it more critical for workplace drug programs administrators and HR professionals to track and respond to changing drug abuse patterns in their respective industries.


Know these (dangerous) players.

Methamphetamines. A potent stimulant mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Historically associated with biker gangs that produced and distributed the drug, it is now primarily sourced from Mexico and distributed by those same biker gangs and other U.S. distributors.

Cocaine.  A party drug for generations, cocaine has staged a resurgence after several years of declining use. Today’s cocaine—Psychemedics calls it “New Cocaine” is often adulterated with fentanyl, making it a highly addictive and potentially deadly choice for those accustomed to a less potent variant.

Fentanyl.   Largely responsible for opioid overdose deaths, this member of the opioids family is often ingested unwittingly by users who do not know their drug-of-choice has been cut with this exceedingly powerful sedative. It is viewed as the most dangerous drug on today’s market with illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) flooding urban and suburban markets.

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Things to think about as the drug landscape shifts.

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Before COVID-19, with a 3.5% unemployment rate,  the labor pool was tight. Help was hard to find.  The harsh reality is that today’s unemployment rate—the highest since the Great Depression—changes everything. If there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel it is that the pool of available talent is 3-4X what it was and that should last for a while. You can be choosy and you can choose drug-free.

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Time after time Health and Wellness, Drug Program Administrators and Operations executives tell us that they want to discourage drug usage rather than catch drug users. The costs and risks to the business are too high to be reactive rather than proactive. Learn about the risks, costs and when to apply which type of drug test on our “Importance of Effective Drug Testing” page.

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Although the drug landscape is changing, the formula for controlling abuse within your workforce has not. “Certainty of Detection is the Best Deterrent”.  When applicants who use drugs know that they will be identified, they tend to apply someplace else. Employees tend to abstain or move. Either way, you move close to a drug-free workplace. Visit the “Science Behind Hair Testing” page to find out how it all works.

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Best practices from others. See our case studies.

In workplaces and on campuses, Psychemedics is being used to reduce recruiting costs by discouraging drug users from applying or quickly screening out those who would not be hired anyway. We have collected a wealth of best practices from these companies and schools. Read some of our case studies.

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There are two chronic drug users here.
Can you pick them out?

Psychemedics can.

Better than anyone. For thirty years.

The Psychemedics Advantage

Your objective is a drug-free workplace.

Your challenge is to Detect and Deter every drug user.

Unrivaled Detection. Unmatched Deterrence.

That is the Psychemedics Advantage.

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