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SAFETY / OSHA / WORKERS' COMPENSATION ó 2/27/06

Businesses respond to methamphetamine in the workplace

Compelling evidence of methamphetamine in the workplace is substantiated in a recent Quest Diagnostics survey which reported an increase in use of the substance, specifically in the workplace. It also stated that the threat posed by methamphetamine will increase over the next year due to the rising availability of methamphetamines in drug markets in the eastern states; the growing number of states reporting the presence of laboratories that produce methamphetamine; rising drug purity levels; and apparent increase in the presence of 'ice methamphetamine,' a highly pure and addictive form of the drug.

Methamphetamine produces a sense of euphoria by increasing the release of dopamine in the brainís reward centers. In general, it causes increased activity, decreased appetite and a general sense of well-being. These effects can be reinforcing for Americaís workers in that some workers believe meth helps them do their jobs better. For example, a tired truck driver takes meth and is no longer tired and makes an on-time delivery. The effects of methamphetamine can last six to eight hours. After the initial rush, there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.

While the Quest Diagnostics survey indicates there is a slight decline seen in the positive drug-test rates for methamphetamine for DOT-regulated testing and the general workforce, workplaces and communities remain at risk. Employers and employees need to be aware of the trends of meth use, the easy access to materials needed to produce methamphetamine and the highly addictive nature of the substance. When it is discovered that an employee is addicted to methamphetamine, employers also need to keep in mind that the addiction is treatable. Employers wanting to learn more about the steps they can take to protect themselves and their workers against its negative effects should start at MethResources.gov. This federal government website includes a special page for businesses.

For additional information on this and related topics, consult CCH Employment Safety & Health Guide .

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