As Drilling Increases in Texas, More Meth Seized by Police and Increased Substance Abuse
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
Data collected and analyzed by the Houston Chronicle found drug trafficking, drug abuse, and drug-related crimes have spiked in recent years and is strongly correlated with drilling activity in West Texas Permian Basin.
The drug of choice in West Texas is methamphetamine, or crystal meth, a powerful stimulant that oil field workers and truck drivers use to cope with the long hours and high demand. Texas law enforcement officials found that the crystal meth is supplied through Mexican drug cartels.
The data from Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston oil field services company Baker Hughes found that between 2009 and 2016, as oil companies dispatched more rigs into West Texas, the number of meth seizures rose sharply.
The rig count’s average of 103 in 2009 increased more than five times by 2014 (which was the peak of the oil boom in Texas). In the same period, Texas state troopers saw meth seizures jump 4,000 percent in West Texas.
The DEA has even seized 2,200 pounds of meth across the West Texas and New Mexico area since October 2015, triple the amount confiscated between October 2011 and September 2013.
For the oil industry, increased drug abuse in West Texas has worsened the struggle to find qualified workers. According to the Houston Chronicle, one drilling and hydraulic fracturing contractor has hired 4,000 people this year to fill jobs on rigs and fracking fleets, but more job applicants have failed drug tests this year than in 2014.
Another oil-equipment company in Corpus Christi hires locally and has seen half of its job applicants from West Texas fail drug tests this year.
According to DISA Global Solutions, more than 1,000 people working or applying for jobs in the oil-producing business failed urine-based drug tests, double the pace of failures during the same time last year.
Regarding hair testing, which better detects long-term drug use, positive drug test rates tripled in two years from 2009 to 2010, and tested positive for methamphetamine increased five times in that same period.
For safety sensitive positions found in the oil industry, companies need to adopt tough drug-testing policies that include pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable-suspicion and random drug tests. Even with a hiring issue, safety should never be compromised. Learn more about how CleanFleet can help companies in the Oil and Drilling Industry nationwide.