Last updated: September 25, 2023
The number of deaths attributed to drug overdose started rising in the United States last year soon after the lockdowns went into place. The news of rising deaths was disheartening because we’d just celebrated a downward trend in 2019. And, rightly so, because deaths due to overdose went down for the first time in about twenty years.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday that 93,000 Americans lost their lives due to a drug overdose in 2020. The shocking figure tops the total number of deaths due to drug overdose during the previous year by 22,370.
It’s probably no surprise that opioid deaths are expected to top the list of overdose deaths. It may be a surprise, however, to learn that the number of deaths that register fentanyl as a contributing factor is certain to rise dramatically as well.
More deadly than morphine
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times stronger than morphine. It’s manufactured illegally in Mexico and China, then, smuggled into the United States.
Because it’s so cheap, drug dealers buy fentanyl to mix into other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. It boosts the user experience making repeat business likely—if the user doesn’t overdose because they unknowingly ingest too much of the drug.
Drug dealers don’t bother to relay the information that they’ve tampered with the product and their consumers are paying the price. The grim truth is being recorded in the information gathered for overdose recording purposes because fentanyl is discovered in the system along with methamphetamine or cocaine, for example.
Couple that with the fact that border patrol reports that fentanyl and other drugs are pouring into the country at alarming rates and one might wonder what in the world the future holds.
We can never throw up our hands and give up the battle America is waging against drug addiction and abuse. In fact, our brightest hope is to keep shining light on the subject.
Education is a powerful tool. Knowing the effects of drug use and the high risk of addiction that is involved can keep someone from ever choosing to use in the first place.
Are you part of a drug-free program? They’re a great deterrent for people who use drugs because they likely won’t even apply for a job. They can also keep people walking the straight and narrow if they’re tempted to use casually, say, at a party, for instance.
Drug testing employees as they’re coming back to work after the lockdowns can help you determine if someone may have developed a problem with drugs over this past year. In addition, remaining vigilant and drug testing employees who exhibit signs of impairment on the job may do the same.
Setting up a drug-free program
Some states offer employers discounts on their workers’ compensation insurance rates when they participate in drug-free workplace programs. Employers follow the guidelines set in place by the state to take part in the plan.
Even if that’s not the case, there are benefits to having drug-free policies in place. We’ve mentioned that it discourages drug users from even applying for jobs in the first place. Employers who operate a drug-free workplace report fewer accidents, improved attendance, and lower medical costs too.
Drug testing methods
Some states stipulate which drug tests may or may not be used for employee drug testing. And, of course, employers mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) follow the guidelines put in place by that government entity.
Urine drug test
The amount of time that drugs are detected in the urine is dependent upon the drug itself. For instance, cocaine can be detected for up to three days after using the drug. If someone is a heavy marijuana smoker, they can test positive for it for up to three months after discontinuing use.
Mouth swab drug test
This test is also known as the saliva drug test. It’s administered by placing a swab containing the selected test panels in the test subject’s mouth. They hold it in place until it becomes saturated. The process usually takes no more than five minutes to complete.
However, if the employee being tested suffers from “dry mouth,” the swab can take longer than usual to become saturated.
Even though mouth swab drug tests don’t detect current impairment, employers choose them when looking to identify recent drug use. That’s because the detection window is much shorter for this test than other employee drug tests on the market.
Hair follicle drug test
Employers are discovering that even though these tests are more expensive, they bring added value to the table.
- They identify any and all drug use for a period of ninety days.
- Hair drug tests are impossible to falsify.
- They identify long-term and consistent drug use.
The DOT realizes the added value of these tests, as well, because they currently have a request in place to change the DOT drug test from a urine test to a hair follicle drug test.
Don’t give up the fight
Employers who drug test are making a statement to all that they want to provide the safest possible work environment for their employees. They realize that drug use on company grounds presents a huge safety risk to everyone that works near that person.
Most people realize that too and would never consider using drugs on the job.
Someone who is addicted to drugs, however, may be unable to determine that they are a hazard to others. Drug use affects the mind and causes slower reaction times, lack of focus, and loss of coordination.
If one of your employees tests positive for drug use, showing them compassion on what is, undoubtedly, one of the worst days of their life can be the catalyst that causes them to seek help. Provide a list of treatment facilities in your area—and offer a kind word and a hope for their future, as well.
It can make all the difference.