Drug Testing for Benzodiazepines
The workplace is a stressful place, and every single worker will need to find ways to deal with and manage that stress. Some succeed at it naturally. However, there are employees who resort to pharmacological means to help relieve some of that stress. Benzodiazepines are among the popular choices among workers for this purpose, and this ought to worry CEOs, HR and safety officers because benzodiazepines are essentially sedatives, and benzodiazepines at work could spell disaster.
Fortunately, there are a number of solutions available for benzodiazepine at workplace concerns, and these solutions can help employers and managers effectively deal with benzodiazepines at work.
What are Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs that slow down the activities in the central nervous system of the body. Also known as minor tranquilizers, these drugs are often used to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and decrease effects of stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. Belonging to a class of psychoactive drugs, benzodiazepines possess properties that sedate, hypnotize, and relax the user.
In Australia, people use benzodiazepines not only for medicinal purposes, but for recreational reasons as well. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2010, 3.2% of Australians population have used some kind of benzodiazepines such as tranquillisers or sleeping pills which are not medically prescribed at some stage in their lifetime.
Taking a closer look at benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are more popularly known by their generic or brand names. While there may come in different names, these are exactly the same drug, containing the same ingredients and only differ by the name given by companies that produce them. Some common benzodiazepines include:
- Diazepam (Ducene® and Valium®)
- Oxazepam (Alepam®, Murelax®, and Serepax®)
- Nitrazepam (Alodorm® and Mogadon®)
- Temazepam ( Euhypnos® and Normison®)
These drugs often come in a tablet or capsule form, making them easy to swallow. However, some people prefer to inject the substance to their bloodstream, providing a significant risk of danger including damage to the internal organs, collapsed veins, stroke, and even death.
Effects of benzodiazepines in the body
The most common effects of benzodiazepines in the body include weakness, sedation, dizziness, and unsteadiness. Some people reported to feel a sense of depression, loss of orientation, headache, and sleep disturbance, as well. These signs and symptoms are usually felt within an hour of the consumption and can last from 2.5 to 160 hours depending on the dosage taken in and the type of drug consumed.
When taken frequently and in higher dosages, benzodiazepines can provide the following long-term effects: memory loss, difficulty in thinking and concentration, lack of motivation, lethargy, fatigue, headaches and drowsiness, nausea, anxiety, changes in physical and emotional responses, irritability, aggression, and paranoia among others.
The Impact of Benzodiazepines at Work
To maximise productivity at work, an employee needs to be strong, sharp and alert. However, one’s strength, sharpness and alertness are among the things that get compromised when someone uses benzodiazepines at work. As previously stated, the immediate effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, a feeling of relaxation, a dip in energy levels, short-term memory impairments, mental confusion and dizziness.
Benzodiazepines at work become even more dangerous when the worker using the drug is tasked with operating heavy machinery or driving vehicles for the company. The employee could cause workplace accidents that could hurt not only themselves but co-workers as well. Such accidents also trigger situations that cost the employer a lot of money, from Workman’s Compensation claims to the legal cases that the personnel involved could file in court.
Benzodiazepines can highly affect a person’s ability to work safely and effectively. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the individual’s colleagues to look out for symptoms and ensure that the person is not a safety risk to others around them. It is best to advise the individual to seek professional help and undertake necessary recovery plans.
What to do About Benzodiazepines at Work
Benzodiazepines are widely by doctors prescribed because they are legal, and they do help alleviate the symptoms of such medical conditions as anxiety and epilepsy, among others. Workers who use them are also not required to disclose that they have a prescription for, say, Valium or any other legal prescription drug.
Employers, however, also have the right to promote a safe workplace, and the effects of benzodiazepines on users do not lend themselves to a safe place to work. With benzodiazepines and prescription drugs in general, employers are forced to enter a place where an individual’s right to medicate is balanced against the safety of the workplace.
To find that balance, it is absolutely necessary to develop and implement a drug and alcohol policy for the workplace. A good policy should be fair, and should include the right programmes including awareness, education and drug testing.
Since benzodiazepines drug testing and other tests for prescription drug use can prove to be legally tricky, the best option for employers is to limit testing to people who are holding safety-sensitive positions. If you have to test for prescription drugs, make sure you limit them to medications that could pose a safety risk, and benzodiazepines at work certainly fits that bill.
Whatever the results of a benzodiazepines test, make sure you disclose them only to people who need to know, and never compel the employees being tested to disclose the underlying medical condition for which they are taking benzodiazepines.
All major drug tests are designed to detect benzodiazepines, and the most common methods for benzodiazepines drug testing are urine testing, saliva testing, hair testing and blood testing.
How to Spot Benzodiazepines Abuse in the Workplace
Benzodiazepines are tranquilisers, and its sedative effects are often the reason many people abuse this type of drugs. The abuse of benzodiazepines at work is extremely dangerous, which is why it’s absolutely necessary for employers and employees alike to be able to spot its signs and symptoms. A person who abuses benzodiazepines at work may manifest:
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Blurred vision
- Unsteady gait
- Reduced inhibition
Developing a Comprehensive Benzodiazepines Safe Workplace Program
To effectively address benzodiazepines at workplace concerns and protect itself and its workforce, it is always best for a company to put up a drug and alcohol policy that is well-written and legally sound. Safework Laboratories can help out in that regard, and more. We give the assurance that any drug and alcohol policy we help develop will always contain the right programmes, from educating staff about a drug-safe workplace to drug testing, or benzodiazepines testing in this case.
If you want to develop a comprehensive benzodiazepines safe workplace program or you need further information about benzodiazepines testing, please feel free to get in touch with us today for a confidential discussion.