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How the Oil Field is Tough

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 to intervene.

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.