Last updated: February 22, 2021
All you have to do is search “overdose deaths” and “COVID-19” and you’ll discover the grave news. People are suffering stress and anxiety during this pandemic and they’re turning to drugs to cope.
That’s horrifying news, especially, when you consider the fact that the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report showing that 71,000 people lost their lives in 2019 due to a drug overdose. Sadly, that’s a record-setting number—you can’t help but wonder what 2020’s going to look like.
Why people turn to drugs and alcohol
The rise in suspected COVID-19 related overdose deaths is happening worldwide. Young people seem to be the most affected age group overall.
The loneliness and boredom of isolation may be the cause because young adults are known for being extremely social. However, the crisis isn’t limiting itself to this generation by any means.
There are many triggers that set off an addiction. Of course, loneliness is a big one. The anxiety that coping with a loss of income causes can be overwhelming. Even boredom triggers drug use.
Furthermore, recovering addicts are more likely to overdose because their bodies have readjusted and no longer have a tolerance built up. Users may start with the dose they were taking “back then” and it can prove fatal.
When you add hidden dangers, such as fentanyl being used as a “mixer” in drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, the risk of overdose increases. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous in its own right and drug dealers aren’t likely to divulge the information that they’ve added the inexpensive synthetic opioid to increase their profit.
Programmed for addiction
Thanks to “evolutionary advantages,” everyone has some degree of a genetic predisposition for addiction. In other words, some information stored in the brain actually becomes part of the DNA and is passed on from generation to generation.
The combination of personal stress and the chaotic state of the world overall has caused some people to turn to drugs or alcohol for the first time. That’s not good because 50% of addicts started using drugs or alcohol to cope with life.
And, on the other hand, one use is sometimes all it takes to trigger an addictive personality.
That’s because 50% of humans are more genetically predisposed to addiction than the other half. These people put themselves at great risk of forming an addiction to drugs or alcohol very quickly.
Opioid epidemic rages on
While cocaine and methamphetamine have contributed to the rise in overdose deaths, the synthetic opioid, fentanyl is playing a part in many of them as well.
Depending on how it’s manufactured, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. As stated above, when drug dealers use it to “cut” their merchandise to increase their profit margin, users are rarely informed of it. This greatly increases the user’s risk of suffering a fatal overdose.
In fact, addicts use the “buddy system” when they’re worried that there may be hidden fentanyl in their drug of choice. That way someone is on hand to administer NARCAN if an overdose occurs.
Some major U.S. cities are handing out test strips allowing addicts to check their stash for the drug. The idea originated in Canada but is spreading across our nation.
Heroin and synthetic opioids, including oxycontin, are both contributors to the total number of opiate overdose deaths as well.
Even though you don’t OD on pot
It’s safe to say that marijuana use has been on the rise since the coronavirus set in too. Users anticipate basking in a relaxed state of euphoria.
States continue to legalize it for both medical and recreational use. However, it causes a problem for employers who want to maintain a drug-free workplace. The issue is mainly due to the fact that there isn’t a test for current impairment.
That will change soon because a marijuana breathalyzer hits the market before the end of the year. Employers who keep marijuana on the employee drug test will have a way to detect impaired employees without penalizing those who legally use the drug after hours.
Keep your guard up
The pandemic has been hard on business owners.
Employers are excited to get their companies up and running again. And, a lot of them expect to be operating on a shoestring budget for a while.
You may have considered eliminating the drug test to cut operating expenses—however, that’s probably not in your best interest.
Instead, look over your policies and procedures for cost-cutting options.
First of all, does the test you’re using best meet your needs?
- If you’re hoping to detect recent drug use, the mouth swab test is the most cost-effective choice.
- Hair follicle tests are the most expensive but are the best option for determining consistent drug use.
- Urine tests are more accurate than ever at detecting attempts to manipulate the result. They are also the most cost-effective of the three.
Continuing your drug testing program is the best way to ensure you’ve done all that you can to provide a safe work environment for your employees.
That and the protective measures that you’ve put in place to combat the spread of corona, of course.
Not to mention, statistics prove that employee drug testing saves you money because you’ll see lower turn over rates, less absenteeism, and increased productivity.
There’s more than meets the eye
And, looking at it from a person-to-person viewpoint, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to someone who’s suffering from addiction. Or, perhaps, someone who’s tottering on the brink of finding themselves there.
This pandemic has wreaked havoc on many lives in many ways. We have a chance to nip it in the bud where our employees and drugs are concerned though.
When an employee tests positive for drugs, do you provide them with a list of nearby treatment centers? I’d guess your answer to that question is, “yes.”
Do you take it a step further and offer moral support? A word of hope for their future could be the catalyst that gives them the will to move forward.
And, if they find their job waiting for them when they come out on the other side, even better!