By the Numbers

Rising methamphetamine use in the U.S. workforce

by Nicole Jupe on November 30, 2017

Methamphetamine Methamphetamine, sometimes called meth, crystal, crank, or ice, is a highly addictive stimulant. It emerged in the 1930s as a treatment for narcolepsy and depression and was also taken by German and Japanese soldiers in World War II to stay alert during battle, according to a DATIA focus article by Dr. Rodi Predescu, Quest Diagnostics. In the 1960s, people began to inject the drug to experience euphoria. Along with the explosion of crack-cocaine in the 1980s, meth continued to gain an audience of new users. In the past two decades, the abuse of methamphetamine has significantly increased. Although it is available by prescription, the majority of methamphetamine is produced and distributed illegally. The law requires all pharmacies and retail stores to monitor the sale of over-the-counter medicines with ingredients like pseudoephedrine because they are the key ingredients in the home-made of meth.

Methamphetamine can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected. Small amounts of the drug may cause increased physical activity, increased respiration, lack of appetite, rapid and irregular heart rate, and increased blood pressure. Repeated use may lead to anxiety, insomnia, weight loss, skin sores, and severe dental issues, referred to as “meth mouth.” Additionally, people who inject meth are at higher risk for contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV.  Addicts can suffer intense withdrawal symptoms when they detox and quit using methamphetamine.

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

  • An estimated 8.2% of adults (aged 26 or older), or 17.1 million people, currently use an illicit drug
  • About 128,000 young adults (aged 18-25) and 757,000 adults currently use methamphetamine
  • About 22,000 adolescents (aged 12-17), 156,000 young adults, and 694,000 adults suffer from a methamphetamine substance-use disorder

According to the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana use has increased broadly in the American workforce, contributing to the highest positivity rate in 12 years. Although methamphetamine positivity in urine testing declined between 2005 and 2008 and plateaued between 2008 and 2012, it is currently steadily increasing. Between 2012 and 2016, methamphetamine positivity climbed 64% in the general U.S. workforce and 14% among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers. In oral fluid drug testing, methamphetamine positivity increased 75% between 2013 and 2016. Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full report.

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

Download our Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

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

Methamphetamine positivity


 

Quest Diagnostics Health Trends studies are published in peer-reviewed medical journals and by the company as a public service. The research features insights and analysis from a large database of laboratory data. Most recently, we released the Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights in the Growing Drug Epidemic report, which examined 3.4 million prescription medication monitoring lab tests. Analysis includes results from patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia performed by Quest between 2011 and 2016.

The study found that, while evidence of misuse has declined in recent years, 52% of test results showed evidence of potential misuse in 2016, suggesting a majority of patients took their prescribed drugs in ways that were inconsistent with their physician’s instruction. By comparison, in 2011, 63% of test results were inconsistent with physician orders. Misuse is defined as a patient taking prescribed drugs in a way that is inconsistent with a physician’s instruction.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • More than half of patient specimens (52%) showed signs of prescription drug misuse.
  • 19% of specimens that tested positive for heroin were also positive for non-prescribed fentanyl. This combination of drugs heightens the risk of a drug overdose death.
  • Misuse rates were even higher for men and women of reproductive age (58%) than in the general study population (52%). Men were more likely to use marijuana and women were more likely to use non-prescribed benzodiazepines.
  • The most commonly detected drug used by young adults is marijuana, while older adults prefer to use benzodiazepines.
  • One in three adolescents (ages 10 – 17 years old) tested showed signs of drug misuse in 2016, a major improvement from 70% in 2011.

The study also found dangerous drug combinations are common. Among more than 33,000 specimens tested for opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol in 2016, more than 20% were positive for both opioids and benzodiazepines, more than 10% were positive for both opioids and alcohol, and 3% were positive for all three.

As our country faces an epidemic of prescription drug misuse, objective laboratory data can help to assist healthcare providers in assessing patients’ use of prescribed medications and other illicit drugs and educate the public about the associated health risks. We offer full line of lab-based drug testing services to help identify the appropriate and inappropriate use of prescription drugs.

See our interactive map showing drug misuse nationally and by state.

Download the complete report.

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

New data shows 1 in 10 Americans use drugs

September 25, 2017Drug Testing

More states than ever before allow the recreational use of marijuana, a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Opiate abuse claims 91 lives each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If users can’t obtain painkillers, they seek potent, cheaper alternatives like fentanyl or heroin. In short, drug use in our society continues to […]

Read the full article →

By the Numbers: Random Drug Testing Data

September 22, 2017Drug Testing

Companies drug test their applicants and employees at a variety of times, for a variety of reasons, using a variety of specimen types. The federally-mandated, safety-sensitive sector follows regulatory drug testing guidance, and in doing so establishes a model that is frequently followed by U.S. companies, who elect to perform drug testing because they see […]

Read the full article →

America’s favorite illicit drug: marijuana

July 7, 2017Illicit drugs

Marijuana is the product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, containing the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite its illegal status, the drug reigns as America’s favorite and most commonly detected illicit drug. Since the 1920s, marijuana has been the subject of myths and propaganda while also being glamorized by pop culture, movies, and television. Attitudes relaxed in […]

Read the full article →

Mapping drug use in the U.S. workforce

June 9, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

Read the full article →

Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

June 1, 2017Drug Testing

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 […]

Read the full article →

Increases in illicit drugs, including cocaine, drive workforce drug positivity to highest rate in 12 years

May 16, 2017Drug Testing

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. It has been published annually for more than 25 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. This year’s report will be presented at the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →