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Opioid Withdrawal May Cause More Evidence of Drug Use Than Symptoms of Intoxication

Posted by Daniel Feerst on

Reasonable suspicion training isn't as easy it first appears. There are a lot of shades of gray, and it is important to help supervisors grasp some of nuances of symptoms. In this respect, you should include information about the behavioral patterns of opioid abusers so supervisors don't find themselves confused and in the dark.

There is a theory being put out there that the rise in social media is fueling the opioid epidemic and the use of prescription drugs, which most of the time means opioid like substances that are synthetically produced. The timing of the drug epidemic is coinciding with rise in social media use. I think this is a red herring.

One theory is that those with a propensity to use psychoactive substances seek information online that will help them maximize the opportunity and knowledge they seek to discover the next big high. And information about narcotics is plentiful online. What comes next is discovering many ways to procure these substances of abuse.

Link to Heroin Prevention Education Program

If you Google, “buy oxycodone”, you will reach over 500,000 web sites with that phrase. At least 50 of them discuss purchase this drug online, and even getting it overnight is not uncommon. These are the problems employers are facing in their attempts to spot drug users, maintain a drug free workplace, and use reasonable suspicion training instruction, webinars, and organized training discussions to make an impact and fulfill the DOT mandate. It appears that the Internet, and not just social media is heavily responsible for making access to these drugs easier.

When training supervisors in signs and symptoms of opioid use, discuss the following information: Someone with a opioid drug use addiction will have a strong desire to use opioids. There are many addictions that contribute to the same behavioral syndrome, but absenteeism from work, and not giving a hoote about coming to work is classic.

Drugs simply take away or remove the sense of urgency every needs to get up and get going, and get to work on time. Never mind withdrawal symptoms. Drug abuse or other addictions will undermine energy and contribute to “urgency deterioration. This absenteeism pattern also stems from the problem of inability to control or reduce use. The task is simply too overwhelming physically for the typical person to detox themselves. You may also discover sudden absenteeism after a person gets a paycheck on the 15th of the month, or even that same day knowing they have the money in hand. Most supervisors ignore what they don't see. And worthwhile adding to reasonable suspicion training, is that how important absenteeism becomes in the suspicion picture. So, instruct supervisors in how to develop a preponderance of evidence that employee is using substances of abuse when you do training.

The inability to maintain commitments, promises, relationship appointments, homework assignments, project deadlines are all interrupted or made more challenging by drug addiction for the same reasons, as discussed above. Supervisors are also like to see or hear about more legal problems with employees who have substance abuse issues.

These legal problems will be associated more often with domestic issues, driving under the influence, or bizarre behavior linked to the drug’s use. Money owed to other users or friends may create significant crisis. Financial problems are especially problematic for drug users, again because of the issues mentioned above. Supervisors will begin hearing about depression, seeing a doctor, rumors about seeing a psychiatrist (last place addicts should go, if they are attending sessions to gain insight on why they use drugs. It’s a fruitless pursuit.

Stomach problems and insomnia are also problems for narcotic (opioid users) because all opioid users will experiment with their own self-detox, and withdrawal symptoms can be quite agitating. This agitation can lead to absenteeism, and these employees will say they have the flu. Indeed, they may not be using drugs at all in that moment. It’s the withdrawal symptoms that are keeping them away from work. Be sure to discuss withdrawal symptoms, not just the symptoms of intoxication with reasonable suspicion training.

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