Drug positivity in U.S. workforce rises to highest level in a decade

dti-2016-reportThe 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.

In examining the latest data, Barry Sample, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics, noted the following key findings from nearly 11 million workplace drug test results.

  • The percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high of 4.0%.
  • According to analysis of urine drug test results, the rate of amphetamine, marijuana, and heroin detection has increased annually for the past five years.
  • Positivity rates for post-accident urine drug testing are rising in both the general U.S. and federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforces; rates have increased 30% and 22%, respectively, since 2011.
  • Almost half (45%) of individuals in the general U.S. workforce with a positive drug test for any substance in 2015 showed evidence of marijuana.
  • Heroin positivity, indicated by the presence of the 6-AM marker, increased 146 percent between 2011 and 2015 in the general U.S. workforce.
  • The overall positivity rate for oral fluid testing increased 47 percent over the last three years in the general U.S. workforce. This equates to nearly one in eleven job applicants who are unable to pass an oral fluid drug screen.
  • Overall positivity in the general U.S. workforce was highest in hair drug tests, at 10.3 percent in 2015, a seven percent increase over the prior year.

“The DTI statistics for the last five years underscore the threat to employers – and employees – from drug abusers in our workplace. The numbers on hair testing – the methodology with the longest look-back and therefore a more telling measurement of regular use – show a 34-percent positive-rate increase for illegal drug use by the general workforce in the last five years,” said Mark de Bernardo, executive director, Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace. “However, all the numbers for various testing methodologies confirm this disturbing trend and should provide a wake-up call to employers to do more to combat workplace substance abuse and to do it more effectively.”

Media coverage for the DTI includes an exclusive story by The Wall Street Journal by journalist Lauren Weber. Other stories in the press include FortuneHuman Resource Executive, DrugFree.orgInternational Business Times, MarketWatch, Institute for a Drug-free Workplace, USA Today snapshot, The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), MedicalResearch.comNewsyHR Dive, Insurance Journal, Denver Business JournalAlbuquerque JournalNational Law Review, News-Medical.net, Newsroom America, NJBIZMetroConsumes ConnectionBecker’s Hospital Reviewand PR NewswireIn addition, Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, was interviewed on iHeart Radio.

Workplace drug testing promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for employees. As a leader in the drug testing industry, our primary goal is to help private companies and government reach their substance abuse program goals and maintain drug-free workplaces. One way we support these efforts is to offer analysis and information from resources like the Drug Testing Index.

For more information, visit our QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI.