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The Unfortunate Side of How The Pandemic Increased Drug Overdoses by 29% YoY

Here at Employment Screening Services, we are passionate about what we do. Someone could come to this website and think we are just some company that slides paperwork across a desk, but in reality, this company truly was founded on altruistic principles and the passions of our leadership. Decades of law enforcement, servitude, and commitment to bettering the society of which we are all a part is why ESS was founded, and why it continues to churn today. We are truly committed to helping the greater good, by helping people see the truth. 

We help those who need to find the truth find it, and we also help show the truth to those who may not want to accept it. Being in the background checking industry for over 20 years, we’ve seen it all. We have spoken here on the blog in the past about how drug testing was yielding all time high results in 2019. Unfortunately, today we examined a report with staggering statistics.

Drug Overdoses in 2020 were up 29% over 2019. 

According to data from the CDC, over 93,000 people around the United States perished due to drug overdoses. This was up from approximately 72,000 in 2019. The opiate epidemic was seemingly starting to quiet down, but the COVID pandemic unfortunately changed that, and forced a lot of people to use, for a variety of reasons. 

Social distancing, employment furloughs, lack of treatment options, and just genuine fear could all be to blame for why someone might use drugs in 2020. The doldrums of the pandemic forced a lot of people to find different avenues to entertain themselves, and the fear of it all left a lot of people with nothing to lose. 

The F Word.

Beyond opiate abuse, the fatal F word that nobody likes to hear is Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerously powerful opioid, originally developed to treat intense pain from ailments like post-operation or cancer. As opiates like hydrocodone, oxycodone and other pills have started to taper out of the public’s hands, with changes to legislation and medical jurisdictions, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines are usually the cheapest, quickest fix. 

Many of the unfortunate deaths in the year 2020 were due to Fentanyl, but many were probably never aware they had fentanyl in their system? Why?

Contamination & Lack of Caution

Though Fentanyl originally found itself attached to opiate related overdoses, drug dealers began to use fentanyl to enhance the potency and effects of other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. According to Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who researches geographic patterns in overdoses, this leads to accidental overdoses.

“Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated.”

Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University

Monnat believes that there isn’t a huge amount of evidence showing that more people started using drugs in 2020, but increased deaths were probably more likely caused by addiction patterns coupled with contamination of fentanyl. 

Types of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Pre employment drug testing is the most common type, as employers are apt to drug test to ensure they are hiring the right people. We have seen how things like the shortage of workers post pandemic, along with legalization of marijuana, have changed the target for what to test for or why. If you suspect someone is using drugs, on or off the clock, having a reasonable suspicion drug test policy could not only save your company’s reputation, but also save someone’s life. 

Check for the signs someone is using drugs, and don’t let the fear of needing to find a replacement prevent you from stepping in. Whether an employee is at the top of the pyramid or the bottom, they should be treated with respect and dignity to ensure they are making the right decisions. It has been a very hard time for everyone around the world during the past few years, but educating and preventing drug use for your employees should certainly be a goal for 2021 and beyond. 

If you’d like to talk to someone at ESS about your current drug testing policy, or if you have a question about what you could be doing better, please don’t hesitate to reach out via our contact form or give us a call. We are always seeking to help. Stay strong out there and keep leading the way to a brighter future!