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► Workplace Drug Use Hits 12-Year High

Drug use in the American workforce has reached the highest positivity rate in 12 years, according to an analysis of more than 10 million workforce drug test results recently released by Quest Diagnostics, a provider of diagnostic information services. The trend in workplace drug use shows cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine use is up broadly among workers.

The annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ revealed that positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2%, a 5% relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0%, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5%).

Marijuana positivity continued its upward climb in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and general U.S. workforces. Among the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, which only utilizes urine testing, marijuana positivity increased nearly ten percent (0.71% in 2015 versus 0.78% in 2016), the largest year-over-year increase in five years.

The positivity rate in urine testing for cocaine increased for the fourth consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce and for the second consecutive year in the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. Cocaine positivity increased 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent, compared to 0.25 percent in 2015 in the general U.S. workforce, and seven percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers to 0.28 percent, compared to 0.26 percent in 2015.

“This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations,” said Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, who was quoted in a press release. “Our analysis suggests that employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be alert to the potential for drug use among their workforce.”

“Once again, the DTI statistics reveal the on-going threat to workplace safety posed by substance abuse. While the national dialogue swirls around marijuana and opiate issues, we find cocaine—a substance with well-established dangers—continuing its troubling upswing not just in the general workforce, but in safety-sensitive jobs with federally-mandated testing,” said Matt Nieman, General Counsel, Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace and Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C. “That positive test results for cocaine persist, let alone are increasing, should serve as a reminder to employers and employees that there is no substitute for vigilance in any effective effort to thwart the potential impacts of workplace substance abuse.”

[6/2017]

 

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