The Midland region is in the middle of a gas and oil industry boom that
brought plenty of work to the region. However, in order to meet the high
demand of oil company giants, many truck drivers – who filled most
of the new positions brought by the boom – are scheduled up to 48
hours consecutively. With exhaustion constantly looming due to the unreasonable
work hours, some turned to illegal drug use just to stay awake.
As a recently published article from the
Houston Chronicle outlines – you can
click here to read it in full, if interested – truckers working in and around
the West Texas oil patch region have become addicted to cocaine as a direct
result of their employment. Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that
can provide immediate bursts or extended stints of energy at the cost
of the user’s physical and mental health. Most truckers who have
succumbed to the temptation of the illegal drug to complete their routes
never even get tested by the oil companies who employ them, suggesting
that the companies know of the issue, and may even encourage it by refusing
History Seems to Repeat Itself
Police departments throughout Midland, Odessa, and the rest of West Texas
are seeing a predictable spike in drug crime arrests as the oil industry
continues to enjoy its growth. This is not the first time the trend has
occurred, either. Whenever there is a gas and oil boom, there is also
usually a drug use increase hidden behind curtains. Some drug rehabilitation
centers in Texas have already seen a 100% rise in people seeking help
compared to last year, and a large percentage of the help-seekers are minors.
In addition to an increase in cocaine use, methamphetamine – or just
“meth” in short – use is also spiking in West Texas.
Law enforcement agencies believe that Mexican drug cartels are aware of
the oil industry boom and have deliberately pointed their efforts to make
meth sales there. Indeed, the
Houston Chronicle examined the number of oilrigs in use in the region compared to the number
of meth drug busts in the area; the newsgroup concluded that there was
definitely correlation and likely direct causation, as both numbers reflected
one another in upward and downward trends.
A Self-Defeating Cycle
The financial gain caused by the oil industry boom in Midland and Odessa
is directly counteracted by the financial harm it has caused due to illegal
drug use. Despite the thousands of jobs created and filled throughout
the last few years, many more people have lost positions or never found
gainful employment due to failing drug tests and crippling drug addictions.
Unable to secure a work position but now addicted to an expensive illegal
narcotic, falling onto hard times is all but guaranteed.
In the first half of 2017, the amount of applicants to oil industry positions
that failed drug tests was more than double than the amount in the same
time period of 2016. This number calculates to around 140 applicant failures
due to drug use each month. The strict and vigilant drug testing before
hiring is almost paradoxical to the reportedly lackadaisical drug policies
once an oil workers is hired. Although oil company representatives are
adamant about enforcing drug tests and heavily penalizing illegal drug
use, employees often tell a contradictory story. Some even alleged to the
Houston Chronicle that onsite managers would warn employees of “random” drug
tests that would occur shortly in the future, giving them time to sober
up and have all traces of the substances free from their systems. Meth,
for example, may only be detected with most drug tests within 24 to 72
hours of use.
Grueling Conditions & No End in Sight
Despite the rampant drug use within the oil industry, mostly spurred on
by the need to stay awake for days at a time to meet demanding schedules,
there seems to be no way out of the cycle for oilrig workers and truckers
other than getting out on their own. For years, it has been known that
some oil companies have found loopholes within legislation to skirt around
the edge of employment laws. The less-than-forward approach to time schedules
and safety has not only been linked to illegal drug use but also to
preventable oilfield accidents and injuries. Until regulations change and inspections, such as those conducted by
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), increase in
scrutiny, oil and gas industry workers will continue to be at unfair risk
of injury, illness, and addiction.
At Dean Law Firm, we are staunch defenders of the rights of the working
men and women of Midland, Odessa, and the surrounding West Texas region.
Whenever we hear that someone has been wronged or injured due to the negligence
or reckless business behaviors of the oil industry, we want to be the
team that helps that person seek justice and compensation. Be sure to
call our Midland personal injury attorneys at
432.214.8125, or use an
online contact form, if you or someone you love has been hurt and you believe an oil company
is to blame. We have 20+ years of legal experience, a history of successful
case results, and offer
free case reviews to interested parties.