I guess the good news about drug use is that cocaine usage has declined in the past couple of years.   In fact, cocaine usage has declined some twenty nine percent.  Only about one third of one percent of the population uses cocaine, or so the story goes.

Now for the other news...heroin use has increased.  The federal government applied tighter stands to drug test as part of the employment screening.  There were testing people in such occupations as pilots, airplane mechanics, and train operators.  Drug tests revealed that twice the employees as previously recorded were using heroin and/or prescription painkillers on the job.  According to an article in Fortune Magazine, the number is accelerating at alarming rates.

Oral fluid testing of 320,000 employees from the workforce overall, between January and June 2010, detected the heroin marker 6-acetylmorphine at a rate of 0.04%.  This is a substantial increase over the 0.008% that had been found through urine tests. Separately, from the time new federal standards went into effect last October through the end of 2010, the marker showed up in 20% more transportation workers than before.  There is a noted increase in prescription opiates like oxycodone and oxymorphone," sold under the brand names Vicodin and Oxycontin.   Results from more than 5.5 million tests showed an 18% jump in opiate positives between 2008 and 2009, and a rise of over 40% since 2005.

So what's with all this?  It has long been said that if you give people the opportunity, many will prefer to get high.  Sure, maybe the  related stress from the economy and the uncertainty of employment has compelled some to want to down themselves out into a stupor.  Experts claim much is stress related.  But these are people in sensitive jobs.  That pilot airplanes.  And trains.  That drive heavy machinery.   That are not only responsible for their own lives but the lives of others.

There were in the most recent count in 2008,  20.3 million adults in the U.S. classified as having substance use disorder.  Of that group, 15.8 million were employed either full or part-time.

We are not talking about marijuana here, medical or otherwise.  This is the serious stuff.  These are drugs that can mess with your motor abilities, your thinking, the decision making process.   These are drugs where you can literally fall asleep at the switch.  Where you can kill or injure fellow employees or passengers.  Whatever.     In short, this is really pretty nuts.  With all those who are unemployed, perhaps it is more effective to recruit new talent and put them on the job.   Run Drug Tests on them as part of their background checks and employment screening.   Certify they are sober.

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