We continue our year long series: “A Shot in the Dark: Shedding Light on the Opioid Crisis.”
As of January of this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation set new guidelines for drug testing truck drivers and safety-sensitive transportation employees. Now looking for semi-synthetic opioids such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.
“I don’t know that we’ve had an excessive increase in accidents, we do find that a lot of the newer people coming into learn to drive a truck are showing up with these medications on board,” says Linda Sitton, Operations Director-Freeman Occumed.
Besides the normal testing of urine and blood, Sitton says she’s seeing more companies start to test hair as well.
“For the hair sampling we have people come in that have shaved all of the hair off their body. Because they’ve learned that we might be doing a hair sampling. This area is very high for selling synthetic urine. And so they try to pass that off,” says Lynda Sitton.
Now that it’s been nearly a year since the Department of Transportation passed these new regulations, it’s hard to tell if there is a spike in seeing the opioids detected.
“I would say it runs on cycles. Everybody’s good and then there will be an increase that we will see as coming back as non-negative. Overall I thinks it’s been pretty persistent. If something comes back and it is a non-negative, if they have a legal prescription for it, then its reported to the employer as a negative,” says Sitton.