Drug Use Up, Says Study

Last week, Quest Diagnostics published the results of its Drug Testing Index, which examines illegal drug use by the American workforce based on 9.5 million urine, 900,000 oral fluids, and 200,000 hair-follicle tests the company performed in 2015. The samples were de-identified for privacy.

According to the study, the positivity rate for urine tests rose from 3.9 percent in 2014 to 4 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the positivity rate in oral fluids testing rose an astonishing 47 percent in the general U.S. workforce, driven by double-digit increases in positive marijuana tests. Post-accident positivity increased 6.2 percent in 2015 over 2014 and 30 percent since 2011, an interesting statistic, given the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s stance on curtailing post-accident drug testing. Other highlights include:

  • Positive tests for marijuana increased 26 percent since 2011.
  • The detection rate for heroin, which can be detected separately from other opiates, increased 146 percent since 2011.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of all positive tests in 2015 showed evidence of marijuana use, either by itself or in addition to one or more other illicit substances.
  • On a happier note, oxycodone positivity continued its decline since 2011, which seems to confirm that the number of prescriptions written for the drug is declining.

The results are clear: employee drug use is on the rise. “All the numbers for the various testing methodologies confirm this disturbing trend and should provide a wake-up call to employers to do more to combat workplace substance abuse and to do it more effectively,” says Mark de Bernardo, Executive Director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace.

For assistance in implementing a drug-testing program or with reviewing your current methodologies, call MSEC.