Over the past several years, heroin and opiate use has been superseded by amphetamines, methamphetamines or (‘ice” as it is commonly referred to.) The 2006 Statistics on Drug Use in Australia devotes four pages to detailed data analysis of current patterns of methamphetamine, amphetamine and ecstasy use in Australia, and comparatively little coverage of current patterns of heroin use. While the proportion of heroin users in Australia is proportionally lower than that of marijuana, ecstasy and amphetamine users, its risk to workplace safety remains pronounced, largely because of the acute depressant and sedative affect it can have on its users.
CMM Technology supplies testing equipment that is able to detect heroin (an opioid) in urine and saliva samples. Its cost-effective DrugWipe® 5+ detects heroin in saliva (as well as THC, cocaine, Amphetamines and methamphetamines.) This device is made by the same company that makes the 2 panel version as used by Australian Police in their roadside detection campaigns and the analysis delivers a visible and qualitative result within 10 minutes. For a urinalysis testing product, the The Medix™ Integrated Pro-Split Cup (with adulterant tests) is capable of testing up to 10 different drug types with extreme accuracy. It is also manufactured for the Australian market by complying with AS4308 cut-offs.  Its inclusion of an adulterant test, means that your business can stay ahead of test cheating, which is gaining momentum in the Australian and U.S work arenas.
Heroin is classified as a “depressant” drug and as such, retards and slows the central nervous system (CNS) and the messaging that is part of normal day to day functioning. Reflexes become tardy, reactions to tasks are slowed and impaired, and individuals may lose the ability for concentration, quick thinking and alertness. In a work or heavy industry situation, this can have fatal consequences.
- Autonomic Slows circulation, respiration, digestion and causes blood vessels to relax. Reduces blood pressure.
- Sedation Causes grogginess and a dream-like sleepy “nodding” state. Mental confusion.
- Euphoria Induces a euphoria and sense of carelessness and wellbeing.
- Tolerance Repeated use leads to increase in tolerance.
Heroin and the workplace
In Australia current OHS legislation requires that workers have a due responsibility to “look after their own and their co-workers’ safety. The effects of heroin such as drowsiness and confusion can affect a person’s ability to work safely and effectively.” In addition, the symptoms of coming down and withdrawal – aggravation, lack of sleep, the jitters etc. – can also affect a person’s ability to work safely and effectively. Operating machinery, driving a vehicle, scaling heights, piloting an aircraft or truck or boat should all be strenuously avoided if under the influence of this narcotic.
Signs of Employee Use of Heroin
- Arriving late and leaving early
- Disappearing to the bathroom
- Blood splotches on sleeves or inner arms
- Bruising or injection marks on inner arms, wrists or ankles
- Drowsiness, “nodding off” during breaks.
- Loss of weight
- Grey pallor
- Reduced work performance, increases in mistakes, poor judgment.
- “pinpricked” pupils even in dark environments where dilation should occur
- An increase in theft in the workplace.
A number of these signs together may be reasonable cause for querying an employee’s fitness for work.
If you require more information about heroin in the workplace and drug testing products of the highest standard, call CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.
 Statistics on Drug Use in Australia 2006. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.