Workplace Drug Abuse


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Elssi Company
(Drug & Alcohol Testing)

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Workplace Drug Abuse

  1. 1. “Addressing the Issue of Substance Abuse in the Workplace” Drug abuse, has become the scourge of the civilized world threatening not only the health and life of the community, but the very fabric of our society, our family. Drugs are of concern to all of us. They kill, they maim and they destroy our quality of life. They undermine economies, tear apart families, promote and sustain criminal activity. The drug habit recognizes no barriers, color, race, religion, sex, age or social standing. In fact the habit respects nothing and no one. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the workplace is a setting, which seems to be “ripe” for the further development of drug demand reduction activities. Definitions of Substance Abuse What does substance abuse mean and what does it include? The abused substances can include a wide variety of chemical compounds, but let’s describe how some of these are “abused”. 1. The use of alcohol, definitely classified as a narcotic, in quantities which negatively affects our ability for working, driving, etc. 2. The use of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. 3. The misuse of legal drugs such as prescription drugs and over-the counter medications. For example, the use of someone else’s prescription drugs, for other purposes than those intended. We can further classify abused substances as any chemical compound that can affect our perceptive system, which when abused can cause the following results: 1. Harm to him/her self; 2. The possibility of potential harm; 3. Actual or potential harm to another person; 4. Harm to the community, to his company, etc. Basic Drug Classification The most commonly abused substance by world-wide workforce is…alcohol. Marijuana is the most frequent used illegal drug. Depress Nervous Reduce Pain Stimulate Alter Perceptual System Nervous System Function Alcohol Opiates Amphetamines LSD Barbiturates Analgesics Cocaine Cannabis Benzodiazepines Caffeine Solvents/Gases Tobacco 1
  2. 2. Alcohol Alcohol derives its name from the Arabic world ‘Al Kuhal’ but no one knows when and by whom it was first used. It is believed that it is the oldest and most frequently abused substance, dating back to 7000 BC. Les us further classify some of the known abused substances by order of their increasing affect on our perceptive system. Increasing Affect - Downwards Person’s Body Addiction - Craving Withdrawal Behavior Tolerance Symptoms Symptoms Nicotine Cannabis Cannabis Cannabis Cannabis Cocaine Alcohol Cocaine Cocaine Alcohol Cocaine Nicotine Heroin Nicotine Heroin Heroin Alcohol Heroin Nicotine Alcohol Source: Kazalotti Elizabetta, Book on Drug Use, 1998. Notes: 1. Alcohol is first on Behavioral Affect. 2. Again, Alcohol is first on Withdrawal Symptoms. 3. Nicotine is first on Addiction, the innocent cigarette. The Workplace and testing as a deterrent Substance abuse brings with it not just the risk of accidents. It causes decreased productivity, impaired judgment, absenteeism, personal injury and crime to support the cost of addiction. Drug abuse in the workplace can become a “nightmare” to an employer. The introduction of a Drug/Alcohol policy and the enforcement and control by testing is a proven strong deterrent. It is a statistical fact that it prevents “Drug Abuse”. Testing is the only objective means of positively identifying drug/alcohol abuse thereby directly protecting employers from: • Persons that may be under medical treatment, by avoiding falsely accusing them of drug abuse. • Employers and their investment. • When drug abusers are exposed, they are forced to seek medical treatment. Companies’ incentives to test One of the keys to success in the increasingly globalized competitive business environment is the realization of the critical role that quality plays. Employers must therefore strive to protect this quality. It is the indirect losses that can cause incalculable damage to the company image: 2
  3. 3. Inferior products or services, employee turnover, diverted supervisory time and low morale. Companies’ incentives to test include a variety of reasons such as: Screen job applicants who may misuse drugs or alcohol; Reduce costs associated with impaired workers who are unable to safely perform their jobs; Reduce workers’ compensation costs; Control health care costs; Determine on-the-job- use; Maintain a competitive edge; Comply with various regulations that require drug testing of certain employees; Retain quality level. Body fluids used in testing Urine, blood, saliva and hair are the four body fluids typically used for testing: Blood, though highly accurate is the most invasive and usually not used by employers except in rare situations. Saliva has a short detection time of less than 24 hours. It is mostly used for alcohol. Hair testing can detect drugs up to 90 days after use. Yet, it continues to be challenged by scientists and researchers. It cannot detect recent drug use within the past 1-5 days and is relatively expensive. Urine is the most common testing method. More than 90 percent of drug testing companies test urine. Urine has the advantage of having been tested and proven and largely endorsed through courts and legislatures. It is relatively less expensive, less invasive and easily collected. The Objectives of Analysis To insure that a suspected drug is identified properly and conversely, that no one will be falsely accused of drug use. There are quite a few methods of screening and confirmation techniques that can be used. The criteria should be which method provides the most reliable, accurate and unequivocal results possible. Stated in a different manner, the methods used must be the least likely to become a topic of debate by expert forensic witnesses at a legal proceeding. The Recommended Analytical Approach The most effective analytical system for the detection of drugs of abuse should consist of: • a sensitive, drug-class selective technique such as EMIT (Enzyme immunoassay, employed as the initial screening process to identify negative urine samples and to select presumptive positive specimens. • a highly specific technique, GC/MS, used for confirmation of the presumptive positive results. 3
  4. 4. The above Analytical Approach, Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry is known as the “Gold Standard” and is accepted by the Courts, the International Societies and the Forensic Experts. Types of testing – When to Test There are basically six types of testing from which there are many variations. They are: Pre-Employment: used for screening job applicants. Post- Accident: following an accident. Reasonable Suspicion: based on employer’s reasonable belief requiring at the same time proper documentation procedures. Random: highly effective type because it is unpredictable and un- announced. Return to duty: following substance abuse rehabilitation leave. Post rehabilitation: taking place for a specified period of time after an employee returns to duty following rehabilitation. Shipping Industry Over 80% of marine accidents are caused by human error, as per IMO – International Maritime Organization. Serious disasters at sea have forced a series of actions to be taken by National and International Organizations and Governments to reduce the incidence of marine accidents: US OPA 90 (Oil Pollution Act, sections 4101-4106) requires drug and alcohol testing and is enforced by the US Coast Guard. According to the new final rule effective as of 20 June 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard announced changes to chemical testing requirements following SMIs (Serious Marine Incidents). Specifically: 1. Alcohol Testing will be required within two hours of a SMI. 2. Collection of specimens for drug testing will be required as soon as practicable but no later than within 32 hours. A proposed solution is to equip vessels with Saliva Alcohol Tests and Sampling Kits. Maritime guidelines (ISM and ISPS Codes). Charter Party Clauses (e.g. Exxon Mobil) according to which shipping companies should have random and post accident testing in place. Shipping Organizations as Intertanco and Bimco are promoting the implementation of drug policies. Major oil companies have introduced strict requirements governing their own employees, refineries, installations and vessels world-wide. Substance abuse management programs when properly executed will protect the interests of both employer and employee. They have proven to be a powerful deterrent to drug use, motivating many drug users to think twice before jeopardizing 4
  5. 5. their long-term employment opportunities for the short term pleasure they might perceive from illegal drug use. * Mr. S. Stamatopoulos is the Administration Manager of ELSSI, a company established in 1993 offering a Drug & Alcohol Management Program. The ELSSI Program is offered internationally in 35 countries in 500 sites in all industries: Shipping, Aviation, Petroleum sector, Mass transportation, Insurance companies and Factories. For further information please contact: ELSSI 15 -17, HATZIKIRIAKOU AVENUE PIRAEUS 185 37 Tel: +30 210 4183425 / 525 / 905 E-Mail : 5