As the COVID-19 crisis continues across the world, it’s important to remember that the drug testing industry still has a large role to play in the safety of employees and the industries they serve.

Safety experts have found that substance abuse increases during times of national crisis. For example, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, scientists observed a marked increase in the abuse of alcohol and marijuana (among other substances), as people attempted to “self-medicate” during this time of stress, anxiety, and fear.

This increase can not be attributed only to first responders, as 30% of Manhattan residents said they drank more alcohol, smoked more cigarettes, and used more marijuana in the first month after 9/11, and that number only dropped slightly to 27% six months later.

We are currently experiencing a worldwide pandemic, unlike anything this generation has experienced before. Many people have lost their jobs, while others are working from home, a situation new to them. 

Those who have been deemed “essential personnel” are facing conditions that are strange and frightening, with new rules and guidelines to follow. Any contact could potentially lead to getting sick, creating an atmosphere of stress and worry.

In this series, we will examine how the rates of substance abuse are trending during the ongoing pandemic, as well as what we, as substance testing professionals can do to ensure that those who are working, are doing so safely.