It seems like every time Hawaii gets some good news about its methamphetamine problem, it also gets some bad news. We take two steps forward and then two steps back when it comes to the meth problem in Hawaii. Despite a 26.1% drop in meth use in our islands since 2006, Hawaii still leads the nation when it comes to meth in the workplace.
A study by a major drug testing company showed that after they analyzed millions of samples in 2010, Hawaii had a huge lead as far as the national average goes. How much more meth do workers in Hawaii use than workers around the rest of the nation? The numbers are actually pretty staggering.
The test found that workplace meth use in Hawaii was 410% higher than the national average. 410%! Arkansas followed Hawaii at 280% higher than the national average and Oklahoma had the third highest rate at 240%. You can see how far ahead Hawaii is even from the second place finisher.
A regional analysis of five years of data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index shows a new trend emerging in meth use.
“Just looking at the national averages doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Dr. Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. “The western half of the country has consistently faced dramatically higher methamphetamine prevalence than the nation as a whole. Our data reflect a pervasive national challenge, and suggest that the substance may be spreading eastward into the Midwest and South.”
We all know that the meth problem in Hawaii is rampant. However, I am sure few of us expected that the numbers (especially in the local workplace) were this bad. It seems that people are turning to meth for just about any reason imaginable. Competitive workplaces – and competitive classrooms, have workers and students turning to the drug for a competitive edge.
“If you’re doing mind-numbing, repetitive work, this enables you to overcome both the painful tedium of the boredom as well as increase concentration and safety,” said Dr. William Haning, a psychiatry professor at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. He also noted that severe pitfalls including depression, hallucination and cardiac risk are included in meth use.
The meth epidemic in Hawaii continues to be a major problem. While we all expected it to be on the street, I don’t think any of us realized how much of a problem it has become in the Hawaii workplace. Hopefully we can get these numbers down over time.