Revised Health & Human Services guidelines take effect on October 1, 2017, and will allow federal executive branches to test for an additional drug in the opiate category including oxycodone and hydrocodone among others. Many private-sector employers are moving toward testing for expanded opiates also. There are questions that we answer every day about the panels employers are testing for like “What does a standard 5 and 10 panel of drugs include” or “Are we testing for heroin”. We find many employers want a safe workplace and reduce the number of absenteeism and high health insurance usage/cost but they may not know what drug panels can get them to a level of satisfaction.
The HHS reports 55 billion in health and social costs related to prescription opioid abuse each year, 20 billion in the emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings. More than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed, and 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids. 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose every day.
Generally speaking, a standard five and 10 panel of drugs does include opiates. What is not always known is it only includes a few opiates like codeine and morphine. It may not include drugs like Lortab or oxycontin. It does not include fentanyl which is another drug recently in the news. If you are looking for answers to drug testing in the workplace, we recommend research and some of the following tools:
- National Safety Council substance abuse cost calculator
- National Safety Council “Addressing Opioids in the Workplace resources
- DOT Guide: What Employers Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing
- SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Locator – used to help when an employee needs resources or employment has been terminated with substance abuse policy violations
- Online Employer Training Resources
- Quest Diagnostics News
- National Institute on Drug Abuse- Opioid Education
Most importantly, talk to your third party administrator about your needs and concerns. They can help with resources, proper testing, education, and customized training solutions.