Workforce drug positivity at highest rate in a decade

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into drug use trends among the American workforce. It has been published annually for 30 years as a public service for government, employers, policymakers, media, and the general public. The Insights from this year’s report will be presented at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Drug and Alcohol Program National Conference, an annual meeting focused on regulated drug testing and compliance for the transit industry.

Driven by increases in cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, drug use by the American workforce remains at its highest rate in more than a decade. In analyzing the latest data, Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, said, “It’s unfortunate that we mark 30 years of the Drug-Free Workplace Act with clear evidence that drugs continue to invade the country’s workplaces. Not only have declines appeared to have bottomed out, but also in some drug classes and areas of the country, drug positivity rates are increasing.”

Key findings from more than 10 million workplace drug test results show that:

  • Nationally, the positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce held steady at 4.2% in 2017, the same as in 2016, but a dramatic increase over the 3.5% positivity rate from 2012, which represented a 30-year low.
  • Cocaine positivity rates increased for the fifth consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce across every specimen type.
  • Double-digit year-over-year increases in cocaine positivity were seen in Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
  • Marijuana positivity continued its 5-year upward trajectory. The drug’s positivity increased 4% in the general U.S. workforce and nearly 8% in the safety-sensitive workforce in urine testing.
  • Increases in marijuana positivity rates were most striking in states that have enacted new recreational use statues which include California, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
  • Methamphetamine positivity skyrocketed in the Midwest and Southern states.
  • Prescription opiates continue to decline in workforce testing data.
  • Heroin positivity declined to a 3-year low and was down nearly 11% in 2017, when compared to 2016, in urine testing of the general U.S. workforce.

“The depth of our large-scale analysis supports the possibility that efforts by policymakers, employers, and the medical community to decrease the availability of opioid prescriptions and curtail the opioid crisis is working to reduce their use, at least among the working public,” said Kim Samano PhD, Scientific Director at Quest Diagnostics.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Drug Testing Index, we created a historical timeline to highlight important milestones and positivity rates spanning 3 decades. Data from more than 175 million drug tests show that workplace drug testing deters employees from using drugs on the job and discourages candidates who use drugs from seeking employment at companies with drug testing programs.

Additionally, our one-of-a-kind interactive map illustrates positivity rates and trend lines since 2007 in urine drug testing across all 50 states. You can search by zip code and year for illicit drugs such as 6-AM (heroin metabolite), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP at DTIDrugMap.com.

Media coverage for the Drug Testing Index includes an exclusive story by The Wall Street Journal. Other media coverage includes Fortune, The Washington PostThe Washington Post: The Health 202, The Washington Post: Small Business24/7 Wall St.Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)HR DiveBusiness Insurance, Insurance JournalEHS TodayTransport TopicsOccupational Health and Safety, Health + Safety (NCS)HR ExecutiveDallas News, Houston Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Seattle TimesHartford BusinessLas Vegas Review Journal, FOX 59 Indianapolis, NBC IndianapolisColorado Springs GazetteColoradoPolitics.com, Des Moines RegisterThe FixWestwordROI NJF3 NewsAlbuquerque Business Journal, Akron Beacon JournalMidland Telegraph ReporterColorado Public RadioWisconsin Public Radio, The Gazette: Eastern IowaAustin American StatesmanSuperior Telegram, Mondaq Business JournalThe Press of Atlantic City, The Post and CourierDaily MailCommercial Carrier JournalIndustry WeekTech TimesDayton Daily News, Material Handling & LogisticsWork Comp CentralLifezetteESR NEWSSector Publishing Intelligence (UK), Smart Approaches to MarijuanaAmerican Pharmaceutical Associationand PR Newswire.

Visit our newsroom for the full press release and other news from Quest.

Download the 2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure and watch our 30th Anniversary of the Drug Testing Index video featuring key milestones from the last three decades.

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