3 Drug Testing Takeaways from the 2014 DATIA Conference
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 DATIA Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona. DATIA stands for the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association and its mission is to provide educational tools and advocate for the interests of those involved or interested in drug and alcohol testing. Here are my takeaways from the conference:
1. It was apparent throughout the conference that marijuana is high on everyone’s minds. (Puns!)
Illegal use of marijuana is at an all-time high and the introduction of its use in the workplace for medical reasons (in some states, recreational) is placing employers in a difficult position of having to defend their drug-free workplace policies in courts. Almost every speaker in the conference referenced marijuana use (illegally, medically or recreationally) and there were a considerable number of sessions that focused on the drug including its new chemical make-up, the Department of Transportation’s stance on it, and of course, how employers could deal with it. The industry is definitely keeping a close eye on this and I encourage all employers to do the same.
2. Prescription drug abuse, particularly opiates, is on the rise.
While this isn’t really news to us, I was still stunned to see the amount of opiates prescribed to Americans. Did you know that while Americans represent only 4.6% of the world’s population, they consume 80% of the global opioid supply? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 20,000 died of a prescription drug overdose in 2008 and 74% of that was attributed to opiate pain relievers. Most standard drug screens do not test for prescription opiates such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. As an employer, you should consider adding these drugs to your testing panel.
3. Drug abuse is an ever changing landscape but employers work with drug-free workplace policies that are severely outdated.
Though there have not been any positive reports of these drugs in years, many employers are still testing for methaqualone and propoxyphene. Interestingly, the same employers do not have synthetic marijuana or synthetic opiates (hydrocodone, oxycodone) in their panels, drugs that are clearly being abused today. Employers should take this time to review their policies and make sure that they are testing for drugs in line with the trends of abuse.
All in all, it was a great conference that gave me a lot of information to share. At PreCheck, we strive to provide our clients with the tools they need in order to ensure the safety of their patients and staff. This has long been a part of PreCheck’s mission and attending such conferences goes hand in hand with our passion for patient safety.
Keep checking our blog for updates in drug testing as well as information related to maintaining compliance in healthcare. Click here if you would like to get more information about our drug screening services; and if you missed our webinar on the Value of Random Drug Testing in the Prevalence of Prescription Drug Abuse, click on the image below.