Blog Series

Mapping Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

by Nicole Jupe on June 9, 2017

Which drugs are popular in my county? How does workplace drug use in my state compare to the rest of the country? Has drug use in the American workforce changed significantly during the past decade? Employers, media, government, and policymakers frequently look to Quest Diagnostics for insights about their specific geographies. These inquiries are especially prevalent this year with workplace drug use at a 12-year high.

Powered by data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI), our new interactive map illustrates workplace urine drug test positivity by drug type for the past 10 years. You can search all 50 states for the six of the most common illicit substances: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP.) This innovative tool drills down to positivity percentages by 3-digit zip code and helps to depict regional, drug, and time-based positivity rate changes.

Reporters covering latest DTI findings used the map to compare local drug use trends to the national average, which vary by state and by drug preference. For example:

  • The Washington Post reported that the first two states to legalize marijuana, Colorado and Washington, outpaced the national average for urine drug test marijuana positivity.
  • Illinois’ positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees’ drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state, according to The Chicago Tribune.
  • Positivity rates were higher than the national 4.2 percent positivity rate in Kansas (5.1 percent) and Missouri (4.9 percent), wrote The Kansas City Star.
  • Baltimore workers tested positive 2.5 times more often for heroin than workers nationally and more than 30 percent more often than the national average for marijuana, according to The Baltimore Sun.
  • Alabama and Oregon had the highest rates of drug use with 6.3 percent, and Hawaii had the lowest rates at just 2.7 percent, reported Vice.
  • California’s positivity rate of 3.9 percent was lower than the national rate, according to Daily Republic.
  • Four percent of New York workers tested positive for drugs in 2016, which is lower than the national average according to Newsday.
  • NJ.com reported that a greater percentage of New Jersey employees flunked their work-related drug tests last year than in at any point since 2002.

To see how your hometown ranks, search by zip code at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Download the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

by Nicole Jupe on June 1, 2017

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant native to South America where many chew its leaves to squash pain, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. By the 1880s, doctors as famous as Sigmund Freud were studying cocaine as a “miracle drug” as an anesthetic for surgery and for a variety of health conditions including anxiety, addiction, and pain. However, by the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were associated with cocaine and an article in The New York Times by Dr. Edward Huntington Williams warned of the drug’s dangers, calling its effects “cocaine-craze insanity.” In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act which banned the non-medical use of cocaine in the United States. Today, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled narcotic with a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

After an analysis of more than ten million workplace drug tests, cocaine made headlines in this year’s Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) report because its positivity rose 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent. The data also pointed to a trend of consecutive year increases of cocaine positivity rates for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and general U.S. workforces. Over time, cocaine positivity has fluctuated in the U.S. general workforce with its highest level of 0.91 percent in 1998 and its lowest positivity rate of 0.23 percent in 2012 according the the DTI.

“In addition, the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests, and was also higher than the rate in random drug tests for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces. While a positive test doesn’t prove drug use caused the accident, it raises the question as to whether it played a role,” said Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.

The most current findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tell us:

  • An estimated 8.2 percent of adults (aged 26 or older), or 17.1 million people, currently use an illicit drug
  • 580,000 young adults (ages 18-25) and 1.2 million adults currently use cocaine
  • Approximately 31,000 adolescents (ages 12-17), 229,000 young adults, and 637,000 adults suffer from a cocaine use disorder, pointing to dependence and recurrent use that affects health and responsibilities at work, home, or school

Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full report and data.

To search for cocaine positivity rates by 3-digit zip code in the United States for the past 10 years, visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Download our new Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Prescription Misuse Epidemic Affects 7 in 10 Employers

May 11, 2017Drug Testing

As one of the nation’s leading safety advocates, the National Safety Council (NSC) spotlights issues in an effort to “eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.” The organization has identified prescription drug misuse as one of its key safety issues because of the […]

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An Exploration of Addiction: The Teen Years

May 5, 2017An Exploration of Addiction

Recreational drug and alcohol use is oftentimes perceived as harmless, non-habit-forming behavior. In reality millions suffer from substance-abuse disorders that surfaced under the mask of recreational use. In this installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examine how addiction can take hold when our brains are at their most vulnerable and when life is […]

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Series: An Exploration of Addiction

March 21, 2017Blog Series

The term “recreational” defines as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working. Skiing, knitting, sporting leagues, and book clubs are examples of recreational activities that can enhance our overall life experience. Recreational is also a word used to describe the casual use of mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. Because recreational […]

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By the Numbers: Going Green with eCCF

March 1, 2017By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we examine the environmental impact of moving from paper-based custody and control forms (CCF) to electronic custody and control forms (eCCF). Paper-based CCFs have been a mainstay of the drug testing […]

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Weeding Out the Facts Webinar Recap

February 21, 2017Illicit drugs

Employers face challenges as states continue to pass marijuana legislation, while the substance is still illegal under federal law.  In our recent webinar, two highly-regarded industry experts, Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, and D. Faye Caldwell, Attorney at Law, Caldwell Everson, presented facts and insight about marijuana and the workplace […]

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Data Shows Escalating Drug Use in the U.S. Workforce

January 24, 2017Drug Testing

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) is arguably the industry’s longest standing, most frequently relied upon resource for drug trends in the American workforce by policymakers, media, employers, and the general public. The DTI examines positivity by drug category, testing reason, and specimen type. Since its inception in 1988, this report has analyzed millions […]

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Webinar: Marijuana & the Workplace

January 9, 2017Webinars

Voters passed new measures this election season to allow recreational and medicinal marijuana use in their states, bringing the count to 29 states where cannabis is “legal” in some form. Research also indicates relaxing attitudes towards marijuana and a 2015 Gallup Poll showed that 1 in 4 people have tried the drug. The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing […]

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Post-Accident Positivity Climbs Among American Workers

January 4, 2017Drug Testing

Our scientific experts have analyzed and published annual workplace drug testing data and insights since 1988 in the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI). After the initiation of drug testing programs by employers in the 1980s, overall positivity rates began to decline. Employers saw how the power of drug-free workplace programs deterred employee substance abuse […]

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