Hoffman, Heroin, and…You? Oh, My!

Hoffman, Heroin, and…You? Oh, My!The sad news repeatedly filled our TV screens and phones flashed continual updates in what seemed like an endless barrage that week. Philip Seymour Hoffman was dead. Reports stated the cause as…Heroin. The topic of this horrible drug seemed to suddenly be on everyone’s minds, and peppered many conversations, at least at some point those few days following the actor’s demise.

A colleague of mine even recalled an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine had failed a workplace drug test. After some research the culprit was found: her poppy seed bagels!  An opiate was to blame.

In case you weren’t aware, Heroin is an Opiate. And the question could be raised:

Are you, or someone you know, perhaps on an Opiate and not know it?

You are if you’re taking any of these: Morphine, Codeine, Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Demerol, Darvocet or Heroin.

Each is these drugs is categorized as an Opiate and they’re called Opioids.

So, just what exactly are Opioids?

They’re narcotics. Their job is to alleviate pain, but in the process, they depress body functions and reactions and can be extremely addictive. When taken in large doses they cause a powerful, neurotic feeling.

Most people may be surprised to learn that prescription drug abuse has become our nation’s fastest growing drug problem. Statistics show that someone dies of a prescription overdose every 19 minutes.

5.5 million drug tests revealed an 18% increase jump in positive results for opiates in the workforce in a single year. From 1998 – 2008 opiates abuse rose 61%.  In post accident testing, opiates showed up four times more often than pre-employment tests.

Here are signs of use:

  • Drowsiness
  • Going back and forth between alert and drowsy
  • Cold moist skin
  • Itchiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Constricted pupils that don’t respond to light
  • Paraphernalia includes: syringes, medical droppers, bent spoons, metal bottle caps, metal packets.

Side effects of Opiates:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Mental clouding
  • Drowsiness

Why the rise in usage and abuse?

Pill mills and online pharmacies make them more accessible while new technology makes it easier to forge prescriptions. There has been an increase in manufacturing the drugs and doctors simply can’t or won’t keep up with all of their patients. Some people visit multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions.

How does it impact a business and why should I care?

Prescription drug abuse in the workplace contributes to the rising costs of health insurance.  It jeopardizes the safety to employees and others because it causes drowsiness and lethargic behavior and alters a person’s judgment and decisions.  Not fun to deal with and obviously dangerous.

Businesses are experiencing $81 billion annually in lost productivity.

Employees who abuse drugs:

– Work less than 70% of the time and have more absences

– Experience 3.6 times more accidents than co-workers

– Are 5 times more likely to file workman’s comp

– Use 8 times more hospital days

– Use 3 times more sick benefits than co-workers

–  Are responsible for 80% of workplace theft

What should I do to protect my business?

If your drug-testing panel only tests for Opiates, pain medications such as Oxycontin won’t show up.  There’s a panel to test for expanded Opiates to reveal its use. There are other solutions. Believe it or not, hair testing identifies historical patterns of substance abuse. Whereas blood, saliva and urine tests go back only a few days, hair testing can go as far back as 3 months for certain drugs.

Here’s what employers can do:

1. Educate yourself and your employees on the risks. Take action to protect yourself.

2. Review your current drug policy and testing program. Are you using the panel that accomplishes your drug-free goals?

3. Make sure your employees know how to find assistance if they have an addiction.

Don’t let drug abuse ruin your business or workplace environment. USAmdt understands the nuances of these situations. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call.



Paul and the USAmdt Nashville Team


Paul Pike | President/Owner


USA Mobile Drug Testing of Nashville


O: 615-777-9297 |C: 615-500-7134 | F: 866-610-8567


2 Responses to “ Hoffman, Heroin, and…You? Oh, My! ”

  1. March 5, 2014

    Excellent information Paul and great advice on steps to protect one’s business.

  2. March 10, 2014

    Thanks for the post Paul, great information.

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