The Opioid Crisis is Being Magnified by Users Doubling-Up

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The Opioid Crisis has become one of the most discussed health issues of 2017. According to the Center for Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. While the numbers are staggering, drugs classified as opioids are not the only ones to blame.

Quest Diagnostics recently published the sixth edition of their Health Trends Prescription Drug Monitoring Report: Prescription Drug Misuse in America. The study shows that a good chunk of our society is not struggling with one particular prescription drug, but that they are mixing several powerful substances – some they have prescriptions for, others they do not.

Opioids are powerful painkillers. You might recognize some of the more popular names: Codeine, Hydrocodone, Tylenol-3 and Demerol. According to the Quest study, 43.2% of women and 35.8% of men between the ages of 15-45 had been prescribed opiates of some kind. The next most commonly prescribed class of drugs for this age group is benzodiazepines. These are drugs given for things like anxiety, seizures, sleep disorders as well as muscle relaxants. The name brands you might recognize are Diazepam, Xanax, Klonopin and Valium. The most common non-prescription drug found in the samples was marijuana.

While these drugs can cause plenty of problems on their own, the Quest study found that thousands of people are not only dangerously mixing these drugs, but they are mixing their prescriptions with drugs they were not prescribed.

Out of the 3.4 million specimens Quest looked at, 22% were positive for their prescribed drugs plus an illicit drug or another drug that had not been prescribed to them.

Of those:

  • More than 20% of those were positive for both opioids and benzodiazepines
  • More than 10% were positive for both opioids and alcohol
  • 3% were positive for all three, opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol.

Mixing these powerful drugs with each other or with alcohol can have fatal results.

The goal of the study was to find patterns of misuse and to help people understand the scope of this epidemic. It should also demonstrate to employers how important it is to screen for such prescription drug abuse as part of their drug testing program.

If you have questions about how to implement an effective drug testing program, contact the experts at EBI.

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Jennifer Gladstone

Posted By: Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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