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Revisiting the Standard Drug Panel

In the following article, written by the 2008 DATIA board chairman Eric Hess, the necessity of screening beyond the basic five is outlined. In the not so distant past, a drug test for (fill in the blank) was all that was needed. Prescription drug abuse is now at an all-time high—they are the most commonly abused substances, following marijuana. Hess dives in to addresses the near necessity to test for more substances.

The ‘standard’ drug panel.

We need to revisit how we define it, and over the years, I’ve been pretty vocal about the issue. The non-medical use of prescription drugs is at an all-time high, second only to marijuana use as the most prevalent category of drug abuse, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The same study revealed that nearly 8 percent of the U.S population was engaging in illicit drug use.

Education on the topic is critical. As an industry, we must take the lead and educate our clients about revising the standard panel to add commercially-prescribed and abused narcotics. Clients often ask me about the reported drop in positive drug tests, wondering if the substance abuse problem in the workplace has been tamed. But, the question has evolved into two separate issues that often get confused. First, all of the positivity studies I have read strictly focus only on specific drugs the client has asked to be tested, with no behind-the-scenes analysis on all screening possibilities. So yes, as far as the standard five-panel goes, it appears that abuse of these drugs is decreasing. Continue reading