Valley employers express concern over prescription drug abuse - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Valley employers express concern over prescription drug abuse

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The growing number of people around the Valley testing positive for drugs is a constant battle for employers looking to hire.

But what about prescription drugs?

Drug testing companies, like Corporate Care in Boardman, say they don't look for just any prescription drug when they test prospective workers. They're on the look-out for opioids.

Opioids are drugs like Vicodin and Oxycontin, very powerful pain medications.

Other commonly abused prescription drugs are amphetamines like Adderall, and depressants, like Nembutal and Valium, used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.

If a prospective workers test positive for these kinds of drugs during pre-employment drug testing, in most cases they're contacted by a medical review doctor from the drug testing firm, explains Dr. Jung Kim of Corporate Care.

He said, the doctor will ask to see proof the person has a prescription for the drug. If that's the case, they're in the clear and their prospective employer won't be told they are taking the drug.

"As long as it is their medication," said Corporate Care Coordinator Rose Chance. "They can't say, 'well I had a headache a week ago and I took my husbands pills.' It's not theirs, so it will be a positive test."

While proof of a prescription is the key to a clean drug report, Dr. Kim said that for companies it's no guarantee that the individual isn't abusing the drug. There-in lies the problem for employers.

"In reality the majority of people when they appear in physicians offices they're in their best behavior and appearance," said Kim.

Dr. Kim said drug use is difficult to spot. He explains, just because a drug test shows higher potency levels than normal it doesn't mean someone is abusing it. For example, levels can appear high if the drug was recently ingested.

According to The Government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the misuse of prescription drugs is only second to marijuana when it comes to illicit drug use and it continues to be a top public health priority.

The Trumbull County Mental Health Board recently surveyed businesses in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, and half said they were worried workers were coming back on the job after an accident or injury without reporting they were on prescription drugs.

"If someone returns to the job and doesn't report that they are using prescription drugs then that can also become a safety issue," said Jessica Borza with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. "One we're looking a little more closely at."

While workplaces may require employees to report prescription drug use to their employer, Attorney Dave Betras said there is no Ohio law that makes reporting mandatory. Even if the label warns "do not operate heavy machinery." However, he explains they can be held legally responsible if someone is injured and it's their fault.

"You could technically face driving under the influence charges if you are operating a car and shouldn't be, or your doctor warned you not to," said Betras. "And if you cause injury you could be sued and held civilly responsible for any injuries you might cause to someone."

While employers continue to struggle with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now described as an "epidemic," the impact is becoming clearer. Prescription drug abuse- whether it's caught or not- impacts health care costs, lowers productivity and can endanger the worker, their co-workers and the workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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