In the current economy, companies fiercely face-off against each other and employees are often forced to deal with heavy workloads, tight deadlines and their socio-economic struggles.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that stress in the workplace is on the rise. In a bid to deal with their stress, some employees turn to alcohol and drugs including marijuana and pharmaceutical drugs.
Research has shown that drug abuse in the workplace is detrimental to employee attendance, productivity, morale, employees’ health and workplace safety among others.
Benzodiazepines are some of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in the workplace. As a matter of fact, some experts advise companies to test for benzodiazepines in addition to the more common 5-panel drug tests.
Benzodiazepines come under schedule IV drugs category meaning they are used as a medical treatment in the United States. They are also known as tranquilizers and are taken as depressants.
In fact, benzodiazepines are often prescribed to those with anxiety and insomnia because of their relaxing and sedating properties.
Benzodiazepines come under different generic names and brands. Some of these brands include;
- Oxazepam (Serax®)
- Temazepam (Restoril®)
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium®)
- Midazolam (Versed®)
- Diazepam (Valium)
Once ingested, benzodiazepines can have some effects on the employee’s body. These include;
- Lack of motor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Impaired judgment
- Memory loss
- Reduced inhibition
Abuse of benzodiazepine could also have fatal side effects such as shallow respiration, weak and rapid pulse, coma and even possible death. Some people may also report feeling depressed, lack orientation and even experience sleep disturbance.
Effects Of Benzodiazepine At Work
Every organization wants productive employees in its workplace. However, productivity is only possible when employees are strong, alert and focused.
Benzodiazepine tends to have devastating effects on strength, alertness, and focus. Simply put, use of benzodiazepine in the workplace is detrimental to productivity.
One only needs to consider the immediate effects of the drugs (such as drowsiness, short-term memory impairments, confusion, and dizziness) to see this.
The use of benzodiazepines also has an adverse impact on safety in the workplace particularly if the work involves the operation of heavy machinery or vehicles.
Employees under the influence of these drugs may cause accidents that could hurt them as well as other employees. In addition to that, the accidents could cause other losses to the organization in terms of damage to property and even possible legal cases.
Drug tests within the workplace are therefore essential in that they help the company to avert such scenarios.
In addition to that, it is important for management to stress the importance of a drug-free workplace to productivity and safety.
Management must also encourage employees to monitor each other and report about any benzodiazepine related symptoms; this will go a long way in enhancing safety in the workplace. Organizations can do this through training and awareness programs.
Testing For Benzodiazepines
Drug tests in the workplace are meant to enhance employee safety in the workplace and also discourage drug and substance abuse among employees.
In most cases, illegal drugs are the subject of drug tests. In other cases, however, drug tests can also reveal the use of legal prescription drugs such as Benzodiazepine.
The legality of benzodiazepines in a way limits what employers can do in that they cannot fire employees because of using the drugs. Furthermore, employees are not required to reveal their use of prescribed drugs to their employees.
In fact, legal experts recommend limiting drug tests featuring benzodiazepine screening to those employees who are in safety-sensitive positions.
There are different methods of detecting benzodiazepine;
i. Urine Tests
According to some experts, benzodiazepines can stay in an individual’s urine for between 2 and 28 days; other experts suggest that urine can test positive for the drug even up to 6 weeks after use.
ii. Blood Tests
These can reveal traces of benzos from between 6 and 48 hours after use.
iii. Saliva Tests
These reveal traces of benzodiazepines from at least one day to 10 days after use.
iv. Hair Tests
These can reveal the presence of the drug even up to 90 days after use.
Benefits Of Benzodiazepine Drug Tests
Effective benzodiazepine drug tests can go a long way in improving the workplace. Some of the short-term benefits include;
- Fewer accidents in the workplace
- Fewer disciplinary actions against employees
- Fewer cases of absenteeism
- Savings particularly regarding health care and insurance.