Drug use by United States workers reaches a 12-year high

US Workers Testing Positive for Drugs Marijuana Use Spikes

Quest Diagnostics Inc., one of the largest workplace drug testing labs in the country, conducted a study and found 4.2% of their 8.9 million drug tests came back positive, which is up from 4% in 2015.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) examines test results according to three categories of workers: federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers; the general workforce; and the combined USA workforce.

The rate of positive drug tests in the nation's workforce remains far lower than the almost 14 percent rate the United States faced when Quest started the annual report in 1988. Heroin is concentrated around Rockford.

The rise in positive testing is a grave challenge for workplaces, particularly those with strict anti-drug policies that include the more socially accepted marijuana.

The 2016 annual positivity rate among the combined U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent, Quest said, a 5 percent relative increase over 2015's rate of 4.2 percent and the highest since 2004's 4.5 percent.

Although methamphetamine positivity in urine testing declined between 2005 and 2008, the positivity rate plateaued between 2008 and 2012, and has increased steadily since.

"While a positive test doesn't prove drug use caused the accident, it raises the question as to whether it played a role", said Dr. Sample. Quest's statistics reflect what he sees in his practice, he said.

Four percent of NY workers tested positive in 2016, compared with 3.5 percent in 2015.

Both Colorado and Washington state, the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in the U.S., had urine positivity rates for marijuana that exceed the national average, Quest reported. "Ninety-nine percent of drug panels we perform in Colorado and Washington", he said, "still test for marijuana".

She said the company saw "a big spike" is failed tests after pot became legal.

The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. It is followed by Vermont and Maine.

The positivity rate for cocaine via urine testing increased for the fourth consecutive year among the general United States workforce and the second straight year for the so-called federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce.

Cocaine positivity went up 12 percent in 2016, hitting a seven-year high among the general workforce, Quest reported.

The positivity rate in urine testing for cocaine increased for the fourth consecutive year in the general USA workforce and for the second consecutive year in the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce.

Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina had the highest rates of positive cocaine tests.

Driving the increase are positive tests for marijuana, which hit 2 percent a year ago and have grown steadily from about 1.6 percent in 2012. His company was not involved in Quest's analysis. Among the federally-mandated workforce, marijuana positivity increased by ten percent from 2015.

In recent years, state and federal authorities have instituted efforts to more tightly control opiate prescribing in order to address the opioid crisis.

A heartening trend in the drug test data is a decline in prescription opiates, including hydrocodone and oxycodones, which Quest attributes to tightened controls.

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