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Positive Drug Tests For Opiates In The Workplace On The Rise

Prescription medications are being abused more than ever before, especially in the workplace.  One of the major consequences of abusing prescription painkillers or heroin is the effect it has on one's job. Besides coming into work under the influence and possibly making bad decisions, it also puts people's lives in danger. If a job entails operating machinery, the user may be putting themselves and co-workers in harms way.

In 1988 the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act was put into effect to help curb drug abuse. Because of this act, positive drug tests in the workplace have declined 74%.  From 13.6% in 1988 down to 3.5% in 2012. Although these statistics are showing positive results of the act, Quest Diagnostics (which administers workplace drugs tests) has recently seen an increase in workers testing positive for opiates.  Quest also noticed a rise in prescription amphetamine use such as Adderall. The increase in drug abuse is having a negative effect for both large and small companies as it puts their business, customers, and the public at risk.

Positivity rates are the frequency in which workers test positive for drugs over the course of a year. Since 1997, positivity rates have increased dramatically for the drugs Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone. From 1997 to today, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone have doubled in use, while the use of Oxycodone has increased 71%.  These numbers are reflective of the national trends of the increase of opiate abuse and prescription painkillers.

The increase in the use of opiates paints a clear picture of what is occurring in cities large and small across the US.  Employers and companies need to look into educating their employees on the dangers of these medications.  Not only the dangers of using them, but more importantly using them during their job.  Employers need to explain that employees who are prescribed prescription painkillers must be under a doctors orders and for safety reasons must not operate any machinery.  Workers must be clean of any drugs that may alter their reaction times or thought process as to not put any others in harm.

Drugs in the workforce are a major problem.  They contribute to work accidents and death.  They not only put innocent lives at risk, but they hurt businesses by increasing insurance and liability for companies.  Many companies are now providing an option of rehabilitation for their employees. When an employee is exceptional at their job and has a desire to better themselves through rehabilitation, it is usually worth the companies dollar to keep the worker and provide the help and support that they need to get clean.  This provides a safer, and healthier working environment for everyone involved.


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