Fentanyl Crisis & Testing Update

Fentanyl Crisis and Testing Update

The opioid crisis has had a historical significance, spanning from the Civil War era to the contemporary landscape, underscoring the profound impact of the current epidemic. It offers a comprehensive analysis of fentanyl's role, highlighting its potency and the ease of illicit production, factors contributing to an unprecedented surge in overdose deaths in the United States. There are many challenges associated with detecting fentanyl and its analogs in drug testing, the legal and regulatory hurdles in controlling its distribution, and potential emerging treatments, such as vaccines targeting the effects of fentanyl.

In a compelling session at Day with DISA 2024, Dr. David Kuntz, the Executive Director of Analytical Toxicology at Clinical Reference Laboratory (CRL), shared crucial insights into the escalating fentanyl crisis. His presentation illuminated the historical context of opioid abuse, traced the evolution of drug trends, and underscored the alarming rise in fentanyl-related fatalities. Dr. Kuntz's expertise and years of experience provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and complexities surrounding drug testing and substance abuse in the modern workplace.

If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend the Day with DISA conference, or if you would like to review this presentation again, you can download or watch it using the link below.

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6 Key Takeaways:

  • Historical Context and Modern Crisis: The opioid crisis has historical roots dating back to the Civil War, but the current wave, powered by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, is unprecedented. Fentanyl is now responsible for 75% of the 100,000 annual opioid-related deaths, highlighting an urgent public health crisis.
  • Potency and Production of Fentanyl: Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Its synthetic nature allows it to be produced in small labs, making it a significant challenge for law enforcement and public health officials.
  • Rise in Workplace Positivity Rates: Testing data from CRL indicates a concerning trend in fentanyl positivity rates in workplace drug tests, with urine positivity rates climbing to 1.12% by the fourth quarter of 2023, signaling an increasing prevalence of fentanyl use among workforces.
  • Legislative and Regulatory Challenges: The complexity of fentanyl's chemical structure and its analogs has posed significant challenges for regulatory bodies. Efforts to control its distribution are hindered by its high potency and the ease with which it can be modified to create new, unregulated variants.
  • Emerging Solutions and Treatments: Research into vaccines that block fentanyl from entering the brain offers hope for a novel approach to treatment, potentially saving thousands of lives by preventing overdose deaths. However, challenges remain in development and deployment.
  • Impact on Public Health and Safety: The fentanyl crisis has surpassed the casualty figures of recent wars, with over 100,000 deaths annually. This stark comparison underscores the severity of the epidemic and the need for concerted action to address it.

About Day with DISA

The Day with DISA conference has become an essential annual gathering for HR and safety professionals seeking to navigate the complexities of employee screening. This year, the event transitioned back to an in-person format, introducing the "Keynotes and Networking" day, complemented by several days of impactful virtual presentations. The conference offers insights into the latest trends in drug and alcohol testing, background checks, DOT and transportation compliance, occupational health, and more, equipping attendees with the knowledge to enhance compliance, safety, and hiring practices. As we reflect on the success of this year's conference, we invite you to join us next year for more invaluable learning and networking opportunities.

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Q4 Owner Survey Results – Did you know Fentanyl isn’t on a standard drug test?

About DISA

Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices across North America and Europe, DISA offers a comprehensive suite of services, including background checks, drug and alcohol testing, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA aids employers in making informed staffing decisions and fosters a culture of safety in the workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.