Our By the Numbers series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we examine the surge in oral fluid drug testing positivity over the past three years. Laboratory-based oral fluid is reliable for detecting recent drug use, and because the collection is observed, it helps reduce attempts by donors to tamper or “cheat” the drug test.

The latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) analysis by Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, revealed:

  • The overall positivity rate for oral fluid increased 47 percent over the past three years in the general U.S. workforce – from 6.7 percent in 2013 to 9.1 percent in 2015.
  • The increase was largely driven by double-digit increases in marijuana positivity during the same time period. In 2015, there was a 25 percent relative increase in marijuana detection when compared to 2014 (7.5 percent versus 6.0 percent).
  • Slightly more than 9 percent of oral fluid test results were positive for one or more drugs, suggesting that nearly 1 in 11 job applicants were unable to pass an oral fluid drug screen.

In 2013, DTI data began revealing higher positivity rates in oral fluid for marijuana. The uptick was attributed to factors such as greater marijuana use by the public, collections monitored by a test administrator, and scientific and technological advancements using the Oral-Eze® Oral Fluid Collection System. Oral-Eze uses a different buffer preservative solution than other oral fluid testing devices and demonstrates consistent drug recovery and THC stability according to research published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

A Gallup poll highlights the softening attitudes about drugs with 40 percent of Americans admitting to trying marijuana. Thirty-eight percent of employers said they will reject a candidate who uses marijuana, even if it is for medical reasons, according to a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey. Furthermore, recent findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 22 million Americans have used marijuana in the past month and 67 percent of drug users are employed.

A test method that accurately detects marijuana should be a serious consideration for a workplace drug screening program. That said, all of these numbers support why many employers are choosing oral fluid drug testing, especially if they are concerned about marijuana use in the workplace.

For all of the DTI charts and data, download the Drug Testing Index brochure.

View other DTI infographics from Quest Diagnostics.

For more information about oral fluid drug testing, visit our website.