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Monday, October 4, 2010

Painkillers In The Workplace Can Be Dangerous

Most people do not handle pain or discomfort all that well, if there is a quick fix for their suffering people generally will jump on it. Prescription medications are so powerful that it is amazing that people are able to function as much as they do while taking them; people go to work and parent their children all while on prescription narcotics - as more people are prescribed these drugs the greater potential for addictions to form, jeopardizing their lives and the lives of the people around them. People who fear losing their jobs because of pain medication will not let their employers know that they are taking drugs which can bring an element of danger into the work place. According to MSNBC, "The use of painkillers, specifically opiates, by employees has exploded over the past few years, and a growing number of employers are starting to test workers for legal, prescription drugs. It’s generally illegal to fire or demote a worker who is taking a prescribed medication, according to labor experts, but using that medication could still impact your career, not to mention your safety and the safety of others on the job".

There has been a huge increase in the number of employees taking prescription opiates, like Oxycontin and Morphine, in the last month according to Quest Diagnostics which does employee drug screenings for companies. The Quest data was culled from 5.5 million worker urine tests and found:

  • An 18 percent jump in opiate positives in the general U.S. work force in 2009 compared to the previous year.
  • A more than 40 percent climb in opiate positives from 2005 to 2009.

People who have an accident on the job and are drug tested are usually not held liable as long as the can prove that they have been legally prescribed a drug. Prescription drugs are certainly playing a part in accidents in the workplace, Quest showed that post-accident drug tests can back positive for opiates up to four times more often than pre-employment tests: 3.7 percent in post-accident compared with 0.78 percent in pre-employment tests. “We believe that workers taking opiates — regardless of the amount — need to take into consideration the consequences of long-term use, including gradual progression of intake, emotional numbness, delayed reaction/responses and decreased performance,” said Clare Kavin, administrative director of an opiate dependency treatment center.

Prescription drugs are abused more than any other drug, both legal and illegal and the problem is getting worse. Most people do not understand the risk of taking strong prescription pain narcotics. Workers need to know their rights in the work place but they should also be considerate of lives around them and how their drug use could put them in harm's way. It is well known that a number of people that are prescribed opiates do not necessitate them, which means they are taking the drugs purely for the high.

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