Keeping Up With the Trends: Substance Abuse Has Changed. Shouldn’t Your Workplace Drug Testing Program?

Although I am reluctant to admit it at my young age of 44, I read an article in an AARP magazine. It caught my eye on the coffee table because it boasted a list of the top 50 drugs prescribed in 2008. Hydrocodone (a pain reliever) topped the list, and amongst the top ten which consisted of antibiotics, cholesterol medications and hypertension drugs was Alprazolam (for depression) at number nine. I found the list to be painfully depressing, no pun intended.

 A recent SAMHSA Report asked past year nonmedical users of prescription drugs how they obtained the drugs. Can you believe that over half of the nonmedical users of prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives said they got the drugs they used most recently “from a friend or relative for free.” In a follow-up question, the majority of these respondents indicated that their friend or relative had obtained the drugs from one doctor.

 It makes me wonder why the most commonly used drug tests do not detect either of these drugs. Wouldn’t it be worth it to find out if these seemingly “easy access” meds have made it into your workforce?

Is drug testing a good idea? Sure I think we can get a consensus on that. Employer drug testing programs not only save employers money by earning them discounts on their worker’s compensation premiums, they also protect the owners from the possibility of having a liability on the job. But once an employer decides to implement a program, how do they know they are creating a robust testing program with options that increase the chance of catching users?

Here’s what I think. A robust program needs to include not only pre employment testing, but random testing also. A recent Quest Diagnostics study backs this up. It also needs to include random specimen type testing so that the detection time for the test may not be known by the donor in advance. Oral fluid, urine and hair testing should be part of the program.

Also, employers need to begin testing for more than just the standard five (Marijuana, Cocaine, Phencyclidine, Amphetamines and Opiates). An underemphasized fact is that the standard five mentioned above, although it does include Opiates, it will not detect Hydrocodone. In most cases, this must be ordered separately.

So, with all of those choices out there, how can an employer screen out the potential liabilities?

  • Utilize a robust pre-employment test including an oral fluid, urine and hair specimens. Combined, this will give a 90 day window into the applicant’s past.
  • Test for more than the standard five drugs mentioned above. ExperTox offers the most robust product line of hair testing that will include the above mentioned synthetic opiate (Hydrocodone) and Benzodiazepine (Alprazolam) class drugs.
  • Random testing of at least 50% of the workforce yearly

Incorporating this into the workplace testing program may sound complicated and expensive. But with the help of providers like Any Lab Test Now and ExperTox, your drug testing needs can be evaluated and performed at an affordable cost. The money you spend on your drug testing program will protect your assets and improve productivity.

And now, I think it is time for me to go to the book store and improve my coffee table literature to something more suiting a youngster like me!

By Laura Bradbury, Toxicology Manager at Any Lab Test Now 

Thanks Laura and Any Lab Test Now for being our guest blogger this week.  Excellent points!


2 Responses to “Keeping Up With the Trends: Substance Abuse Has Changed. Shouldn’t Your Workplace Drug Testing Program?”

  1. 1 emily March 1, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Love reading your page, always learn random interesting facts.
    Emily Randall from Husky

    • 2 expertox March 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. I see that you train huskies. Is there any item of interest that you would like to see us blog about in the future?

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