Category : Workplace Health

opioids crop

Can You Read the Warning Signs of Opiate Abuse?

The addiction to prescription opiate drugs used for pain management has become an epidemic, with estimates of anywhere from 26 million to 36 million people believed to be abusing opioids in the United States.

Primarily used in the treatment of chronic pain these drugs are highly addictive.  Even when taken as prescribed they can lead to abuse and addiction.

Common Types of Prescription Opiates

Most individuals who abuse opiates began using them as prescribed by their doctor, but as they quickly develop a tolerance, they start abusing the drugs.  Some of the common types of prescription opiates include:opiod pills

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

Recognizing Opiate Abuse

With the prevalence of opioid abuse, many employers, parents and caregivers are searching for the warning signs that an opiate problem exists. Detecting drug abuse early is the most effective way of preventing an addiction from developing.

Not everyone who uses painkillers becomes addicted. However, a person who abuses drugs in large amounts or over extended periods of time is more likely to fall victim to an addiction.

The most common physical and behavioral signs of opiate abuse are:

  • Having trouble staying awake, or falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Flushed, itchy skin
  • Experiencing euphoria, blurred vision and lightheadedness
  • Withdrawing from social activities that were once enjoyed
  • Sudden and dramatic mood swings that seem out of character
  • Impulsive actions and decision-making
  • Needle marks on arms and legs from intravenous (injected) use
  • Constricted, “pinpoint” pupils
  • May have constipation, nausea and vomiting
  • Engaging in risky activities, such as driving under the influence
  • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain more prescriptions

opioid-abuse signs

The hallmark characteristics of addiction include intense drug cravings and a strong desire to obtain or use the drug – despite the negative consequences that may occur.  Aside from dangerous health risks, opiate abuse can also interfere with your personal life and close relationships with family and friends.

The Consequences Can Be High

The consequences of opiate abuse often include:

  • Losing a job due to prioritizing substance use over work responsibilities
  • Financial issues stemming from spending too much money on new prescriptions
  • Criminal charges for possessing painkillers without a prescription
  • Damaged relationships with family members, friends and co-workers

If You Suspect Opiate Abuse

If you suspect a co-worker or family member to be abusing opioids, it’s important to get them into a treatment program.  Signs of opioid abuse can often be present very early, and they tend to only get worse over time.  If not controlled, addiction can lead to death from overdose.

When confronted about their abuse, many times the accused will deny they have a problem, feel insulted, get angry, or accuse you of not trusting them. The goal should be to get an addict into treatment immediately so they can be given the proper help to overcome their dependency on opiates.

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerHow Blackbird Clinical Services Can Help

Blackbird Clinical Services is a certified drug testing service that can help any employer set up a pre-employment and random drug testing program.  Our experience and knowledge regarding these tests ensures that those abusing drugs are not able to prevent detection by using different avoidance techniques.

Just give us a call at 765-447-8700 and we’ll be happy to arrange a time we can talk about setting up a program to identify opiate abuse at the workplace.

prescription drug

Do Drug Abusers Target Your Business?

With all the news surrounding the opiate crisis in the U.S., it won’t come as any surprise that opiates topped the list as the drug that employees used the most while at work.  While sometimes legal, these drugs are considered highly addictive and potentially lethal – with or without a valid prescription – and can be detrimental to workers safety.

70% have used drugs at the workplaceIn an article published in The Business Journals on January 18th, 2018, seven in 10 illicit drug users have used drugs while at work, including opiates, amphetamines and cocaine, according to a survey from treatment website Detox.

Opiates are the most commonly used drug, as 17.83 percent said they had consumed them while at work. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium came in second at 17.05 percent, and amphetamines and cocaine tied for third at 8.53 percent.

Impact of Drug Use at the Workplace

The Department of Labor states that the impact of employee substance abuse is a problem that extends beyond the employee using the drugs.  Co-worker job performance and attitudes are negatively affected.  This is a result of workers reporting that they have been put in danger, have been injured, had to work harder or redo work, or cover for a co-worker.

Small businesses, with inconsistent or non-existent substance abuse policies, are often the employer-of-choice for illicit drug users.  Individuals who can’t adhere to a drug-free workplace policy seek employment at firms that don’t have one.  With about half of the U.S. workforce working for small and medium sized businesses with less than 500 employees, this leads to a substantial number of unsafe and unhealthy work places.

Workplace Drug Testing

Just one mistake or accident caused by a worker under the influence of drugs or alcohol can devastate a small business financially.  That is why it is so critical that every workplace should be doing pre-employment and follow up random drug testing.

Currently 56% of U.S. employers require workers to take pre-employment drug tests, according to Statistic Bain.  This leaves a lot of businesses vulnerable to the mistakes, accidents and injuries caused by drug impaired employees.

National Safety Council (NSC) found healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times higher than for an average employee. Employers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their employees:

  • prescription drugRecognize prescription drugs impact the bottom line
  • Enact strong company drug policies
  • Expand drug panel testing to include opioids
  • Train supervisors and employees to spot the first signs of drug misuse
  • Treat substance abuse as a disease
  • Leverage employee assistance programs to help employees return to work

The annual cost of untreated substance use disorder ranges from $2,600 per employee in agriculture to more than $13,000 per employee in information and communications.

NSC offers a Free Employer Kit that provides information on how to take a more proactive role in addressing opioids in the workplace.  For more information go to Free Employer Kit.

Kimi Hathaway, President/OwnerLet Us Help

Blackbird Clinical Services is a certified drug testing service that can help any employer set up a pre-employment and random drug testing program.  Our experience and knowledge regarding these tests ensures that those abusing drugs are not able to prevent detection by using different avoidance techniques.  For more on our drug testing capabilities, please go to Drug Screening.

Just give us a call at 765-447-8700 and we’ll be happy to arrange a time we can talk about setting up a program to make your workplace safer and more productive.

Alcohol in the Workplace

Alcohol in the Workplace …. The Forgotten Drug

Alcohol Free WorkplaceWith so much attention being paid to the impact of illegal drugs such as opioids, heroin and prescription pills, we can lose site that the most common drug of abuse in America, although legal, is alcohol.

The impact of alcohol in the workplace for both employers and other employees, like all drug abuse, can have a significant impact on workplace safety, productivity, absenteeism and medical costs.

The Effects of Alcohol in the Workplace

alcohol hurts your job skillsAlcohol is a depressant drug that slows the messages to and from the brain and body.  Alcohol can affect problem solving skills, judgment, concentration, reaction times and coordination.   All of these can have negative consequences on ‘fitness for work’ as well as individual health and well-being.

  • Preventing accidents that result in injury and or death particularly in occupations involving operating heavy machinery or driving vehicles.
  • Workplace relationships with co-workers and customers. The effects of alcohol can impact behavior including acting unprofessionally towards clients, customers and other employees; co-workers may be resentful for covering for others affected by alcohol or the ‘hangover’ effects of alcohol.
  • Lower workplace productivity due to short-term absenteeism and a lower quality and quantity of work due to poor decision making and disruption to operations.  Also the lost productivity of co-workers covering for alcohol-affected employees.
  • Workplace related costs incurred due to long-term alcohol-related job performance include loss of productivity, damaged equipment, employer insurance liabilities, and the related costs of replacement and training new employees.

Detecting Alcohol Abuse is Everyone’s Responsibility

Monitoring work-related alcohol use and its effects on safety, health, and behavior in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility.  All employers and employees have safety and health responsibilities and obligations in relation to the workplace.Alcohol in the Workplace

  • Employers have a legal obligation to respond to alcohol use and related-harm in the workplace through ‘duty of care’ provisions under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
  • Employees have an obligation to take reasonable care of their own safety and health and not endanger the safety and health of others at the workplace.

Alcohol in the Workplace Policy

If you haven’t already, every employer should have in place a Drug and Alcohol policy that is tailored to your business.  It should spell out why the company established the policy; what precisely is expected of employees; and the consequences for policy violations.

Alcohol Testing

Any drug testing program must be fair, accurate, and legally defensible.  When testing someone who is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol at work, it is important to have that individual tested immediately.

There are different types of tests available for alcohol detection that can be administered at the workplace, on the job site, or at a clinic.  It is recommended that these tests be performed by a certified professional.  This ensures all procedures are followed and the risk of being challenged on the result is minimized.Kimi Hathaway, President/Owner

Have Questions on Addressing Alcohol in the Workplace?

Feel free to contact Blackbird Clinical Services by either EMAIL or phone at at 765-447-8700.  We are always happy to answer your questions.

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