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Workforce Drug Positivity to Highest Rate in 12 Years

May 22, 2017

According to the latest data, 2016 saw an increased rate of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations. Positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent. That is a five percent relative increase over the 2015 rate of 4.0 percent. Also, it was the highest annual positivity rate since 2004, when it was 4.5 percent.


Cocaine, Marijuana, and Methamphetamine use was up broadly among the U.S. workforce in 2016. The positivity rate of Cocaine increased 12 percent . That increase was a seven-year high. In post-accident urine drug testing, the positivity rate was more than twice that of pre-employment urine drug tests. This was in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforce.


For the first time since the recreational statutes took effect, the overall urine positivity rate for marijuana in Colorado and Washington outpaced the national average. Positivity increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing. Rates also increased in both urine and hair in the general U.S. workforce.


Methamphetamine positivity climbed 64 percent in the general U.S. workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers between 2012 and 2016.


"Once again, the Drug Testing Index 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, bit 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."


Source: Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics

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