The Fentanyl crisis has been a regular top news story and public policy issue since well before the onset of COVID-19. After the pandemic forced the world into lockdown, drug and alcohol use skyrocketed, fentanyl use included. Though the public is aware of the dangers of narcotics like fentanyl ; the problem remains unsolved. Though money and resources are being thrown at the problem, the data shows that from March 2020 and March 2021, fentanyl related deaths increased by 30% totaling more than ninety-six thousand deaths.
If that wasn’t alarming enough, we have now entered a new, more terrifying era of the Fentanyl crisis.
In September of 2021, The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a dire public safety warning regarding the onslaught of fake prescription pills, with over 9.5 million pills being confiscated. These pills are made to mimic the appearance of legitimate opioid pharmaceuticals, but contain deadly amounts of the synthetic opioid known as Fentanyl.
"These counterfeit pills are easy to purchase, widely available, and often contain deadly doses of fentanyl. Pills purchased outside of a licensed pharmacy are illegal, dangerous, and potentially lethal," the DEA warned.
How Can You Prevent Drug Abuse & The Inevitable Consequences?
Perform Regular Drug Testing
These counterfeit drugs are being manufactured in Mexico with chemicals provided by China. Not only are these deceptive-looking drugs being laced with fentanyl, there is also evidence that some of them also contain other contaminants like Methamphetamine. In times past, drug-free work policies have been viewed as a precaution that benefited the employer more than their employees or new hires, but in this new era of fatal narcotics, drug screening protocols can literally save the lives of employees.
Create A Drug-Free Work Policy
You might believe that drug use is not a problem for your employees, or maybe that it’s not your problem what your employees do when they’re not on the clock, but the reality is that millions of employees suffer job-related injuries from drug and alcohol abuse. Thousands of those accidents result in the death of an employee. It is worth your time to consider the effects of drug and alcohol related accidents and injuries to your business. Footage of impaired persons has become regular fodder on news networks, showcasing the erratic behavior and dangers of drug use --- both towards the user themselves and those around them. When you add innocent bystanders, heavy equipment and machinery to the mix, the consequences to your business could be crushing
Between drugs that appear in every way like prescriptions or drugs that are culturally accepted “recreational” drugs, it is possible that an opioid addiction or fatal overdose could find its way to your workspace. Drug-free work policies and on-site drug testing are worth every penny to prevent on-the-job injuries that result in worker’s compensation claims, or worse, the loss of life or limb.
"This is a drug that can be laced in anything. You can ingest it orally, you can smoke it, you can snort it. That's the concern. We have lots of people across the country who use marijuana recreationally and if you end up with a batch that's got illicit fentanyl in it, the consequences can be disastrous,” says The coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish, Dr. William Clark.
Offer Employee Assistance Programs
As previously stated, much of the opioid abuse results from legitimately prescribed medications that lead to addiction. For employees who do test positive for drugs but are suffering from an unintended dependency, assistance programs can be the lifeline your employees need to find release from the grip of addiction.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that “therapeutic work environments that provide employment for drug-abusing individuals who can demonstrate abstinence have been shown not only to promote a continued drug-free lifestyle but also to improve job skills, punctuality, and other behaviors necessary for active employment throughout life.”
Stay Ahead of a Drug Crisis
Workplace Safety Screenings can customize a drug-free policy and testing program that works for your business needs. Together we can combat this ever expanding and evolving drug crises to protect you, your employees and your bottom line.