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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 (DATIA) annual conference, a gathering of industry professionals focused on safety, regulatory affairs, ethics, and workplace drug testing education from all over the world.

In examining the latest data, Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics, said, “This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations.” He noted the following key findings from millions of workplace drug test results.

  • Overall positivity in urine drug testing among the combined U.S. workforce in 2016 was 4.2 percent, a five percent relative increase over last year’s rate of 4.0 percent, and the highest annual positivity rate since 2004 (4.5 percent).
  • Cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine use is up broadly among the U.S. workforce across multiple drug test specimen types and testing populations.
  • Cocaine positivity increased 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent.
  • The positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment urine drug tests in both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces.
  • In Colorado and Washington, the overall urine positivity rate for marijuana outpaced the national average in 2016 for the first time since the recreational statutes took effect.
  • Year over year marijuana positivity increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing. In addition, positivity increased in both urine and hair testing in the general U.S. workforce.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, methamphetamine positivity climbed 64 percent in the general U.S. workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.
  • Heroin detection, indicated by the presence of the 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM) metabolite, plateaued in the general U.S. workforce while prescription opiate detection declines.

“Once again, the DTI 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, but 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.”

Along with this year’s data, we are offering an interactive map to illustrate overall positivity and positivity by drug for the past 10 years in urine testing. Users can search by both zip code and year for six illicit drugs: 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP at QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Workplace drug testing promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees. Our analysis suggests that employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be aware of the potential for drug use among their workforce.

Media coverage for the Drug Testing Index includes an exclusive story by The Wall Street Journal. Other press featuring the DTI includes: The Washington Post, CNBC’s Closing BellTIME magazineFortune, CBS Money WatchViceMarketWatchThe Chicago Tribune, Facility Safety Management, Business InsuranceInsurance Journal, Daily Republic, FOX Denver,  Newsday, NJBIANew Jersey’s NJ.comPittsburgh Post-Gazette, North Nevada Business Weekly, Dayton Daily News, Brevard Times, The National Law Review, PoliticoThe TruckerHR DiveMedical Laboratory Observer: LabLineCrime Report, Drug ChronicleSteelers LoungeSector PublishingDaily Caller, Newsmax Wires, RTBulk Transporter, Lexology, Daily Chew, NCASJunior College, Industry Week, Salon, and WSJ: The 10-Point.

Read the full press release for the latest DTI data as well as drug testing news and resources.

Download our new Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure and the this year’s DTI infographics.

For more information about drug testing, visit our QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI or contact us online.

Employers Paying the Price of Substance Abuse

by Steve Beller on May 9, 2017

Substance abuse in the workplace is increasing. For the past several years, data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ has shown an increase in drug test positivity in the American workforce. We knew that employee drug use was costly to businesses in turnover, absenteeism, accidents, and insurance. However, the actual cost employers bear for employee substance abuse has been somewhat elusive – until now. The National Safety Council (NSC), Shatterproof (a national nonprofit organization), and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) collaborated to create the Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers to help estimate the costs of employee drug use on businesses. According to the NSC, the calculator is, “an authoritative, easy-to-use tool providing business leaders with specific information about the cost of substance use (including prescription drug abuse and misuse, alcohol abuse and misuse, opioid and heroin addiction, as well as abuse of other illicit drugs and marijuana) in their workplace.” The calculator combines the latest research on employment costs with data from National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Using the calculator is simple. Employers enter their industry, company size, and state to estimate the price they might be paying on account of employee substance abuse. For example, the calculator estimates the annual cost of substance abuse for a retail chain in California with 1,000 employees is $370,299. This translates into $132,007 in lost time, $140,693 in job turnover and re-training, and $97,498 in added healthcare spend. In addition to pointing out the costs of substance abuse, the calculator also provides an estimate of potential cost avoidance employers can achieve through employee engagement and treatment assistance.

According to the NSC, “Substance use disorders affect 20.8 million Americans, almost 8 percent of the adult and adolescent population. While 75 percent of these people are part of the workforce, most employers are unaware of the hidden costs associated with these problems. It is estimated that the yearly economic impact is over $442 billion dollars.” Employers absorb a significant portion of those costs in the form of absenteeism, increased healthcare expenses, and lost productivity.

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

2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

April 14, 2017News

An ambulance blazes by a sea of idling cars in the midst of evening rush-hour. Weaving through traffic, the EMT’s singular goal is to arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible. The passenger is a victim of accidental prescription drug poisoning. This scenario plays out daily in cities across the country. In fact, […]

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Winter Storm Stella May Cause Delays

March 14, 2017News

The National Weather service has issued winter storm warnings throughout the northeast, with likely impacts including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. In addition, blizzard warnings have also been issued from northeast New Jersey to far southeast New York and southern Connecticut. Be aware that this hazardous storm may impact the logistics and transportation of […]

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Revisions to Federal Workplace Drug Testing

February 10, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

On January 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. More specifically, the notice expanded federal urine workplace drug testing to include four Schedule II drugs: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The effective date for the revised Guidelines is October 1, 2017. […]

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Clarifying the New OSHA Post-Accident Drug Testing Regulations

February 3, 2017Drug Testing

New regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses became effective on December 1, 2016. The regulations prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses (OSHA 29 CFR 1904). Although drug and alcohol testing was not mentioned in the Final Rule […]

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2017 Random Testing Rate

December 21, 2016News

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced last week that the minimum annual drug testing rate will remain at 25 percent for 2017. Visit the ODAPC website to see a helpful graphic, which outlines the annual minimum drug and alcohol random testing rates established within DOT Agencies and the United States […]

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Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Aims to Make Roads Safer

December 8, 2016Drug Testing

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule that “establishes a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truck and bus drivers. The clearinghouse database will serve as a central repository containing records of violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program by commercial driver’s license (CDL) […]

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Shortage of Drug-Free Job Applicants

December 2, 2016Drug Testing

Many businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to find applicants who can pass a pre-employment drug test. According a recent article in Briefings magazine, “the country has a growing drug problem, and it is spilling over into the workplace in ways many companies doing large-scale hiring have not anticipated.” Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of […]

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What happens after November 8?

November 7, 2016Drug Testing

During this election season, our news feeds, televisions, inboxes, and water cooler conversations have been dominated by the 2016 race to the White House and the potential impacts our country will see with new leadership. This heightened awareness has transformed into what some mental health professionals are now identifying as “election anxiety” for both Republicans […]

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