Drug & Alcohol Testing:

Prescription or Problem?

Published: 19th May 2020

Prescription drug misuse is consistently making headlines and is becoming a huge concern in the UK. Dependency and misuse has the potential to further increase as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, as illicit drugs become harder to obtain and mental health conditions rise as a result of the pandemic.

One in 20 people in England are being prescribed opioid painkillers, such as Codeine and Tramadol[i]. Although these substances can be legally prescribed, drugs such as Gabapentin and Pregabalin are becoming more readily available via the black market, and according to a BBC investigation, deaths linked to the drugs have increased.

In this blog, we take a closer look at the scope of the problem surrounding prescription drug misuse in the UK and the testing options recommended for the workplace.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

According to a report conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)[ii] four million people in England experienced some symptoms of withdrawal from anti-depressants, in 46% of cases (1.8 million people) these were severe.

Research conducted by the University of Southampton found that being prescribed psychotropic medication for a mental health disorder generally increased the risk of occupational injury by between 40% and 60%.

The concern has also risen in anti-epileptic drug use, with the recent reclassification of Pregabalin and Gabapentin, used to relieve chronic pain. As of the 1st April 2019, the drugs were reclassified to Class C controlled substances in the UK[iii].

A Public Health England report on prescription drug dependency, disclosed that there is a severe lack of services available for opioid painkiller addictions and claimed there was “almost a reluctance” among clinicians to address opioid painkiller addictions because of the lack of available treatment[iv].

It’s clear, that prescription drugs are becoming a huge concern in the UK with the number of drugs dispensed now on the rise.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE WORKPLACE?

The side effects of prescription drugs can mirror those of illegal substances when misused, Pregablin and Gabapentin can increase the effects of opioids and benzodiazepines. These can include:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired judgement
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision

These all pose a serious threat to the workplace. In some industries it is often part of an organisation’s drug and alcohol policy that employees working in safety critical roles must declare any medications taken.

A Drug and Alcohol Policy can play a pivotal role in the workplace acting as a preventative measure to drug and alcohol misuse while supporting the health, safety and welfare of employees at work. To find out if your policy covers the testing of prescription drugs, please review your policy or give us a call on 01873 856688.

TESTING FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

At SYNLAB Laboratory Services we understand the importance of safeguarding your people and business. We provide urine and saliva tests for a number of prescription drugs, more details on the drugs we test for and the types of test available can be found here.

To speak to a member of our customer services team on the prescription drug testing options available call 01873 856688 or email [email protected]


[i] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/08/strong-painkiller-use-doubles-15-years/

[ii] Antidepressant Dependency and Withdrawal Antidepressant Submission to the Public Health England Review into Prescribed Drug Dependence and Withdrawal. May 2018

[iii] https://www.iosh.com/medication

[iv]   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/829777/PHE_PMR_report.pdf

Latest Drug & Alcohol Testing News
UK Logistics and Haulage Driver Shortage Disruption and Safeguarding Employee Investment

In recent weeks there have been calls for action to be taken by the UK government to curb the effects of what is being dubbed the ‘pingdemic’..

Read More (about 'UK Logistics and Haulage Driver Shortage Disruption and Safeguarding Employee Investment')
The Employers Role in Workplace Drug & Alcohol Testing

Published: 13th July 2021 With COVID-19 restrictions easing across the whole of the UK and more employees returning to the office, the safety and wellbeing…

Read More (about 'The Employers Role in Workplace Drug & Alcohol Testing')
SYNLAB Laboratory Services Welcomes New UK Sales & Marketing Manager

Published: 7th July 2021 SYNLAB Laboratory Services, part of the SYNLAB Group, has today announced they have further strengthened their team by appointing a new…

Read More (about 'SYNLAB Laboratory Services Welcomes New UK Sales & Marketing Manager')
Webinar: Spotting the Signs of Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the Workplace

Published: 24th June 2021 At SYNLAB Laboratory Services, we’re committed to sharing our expertise to help customers identify, deter and rule out inappropriate drug and…

Read More (about 'Webinar: Spotting the Signs of Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the Workplace')
Webinar: The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug & Alcohol Misuse & the Workplace

Published: 25th February 2021 Watch the recording of our live webinar ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug & Alcohol Misuse & the Workplace’, which took…

Read More (about 'Webinar: The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug & Alcohol Misuse & the Workplace')