Cocaine

Hair Testing Helps to Protect Safety

by Nicole Jupe on August 29, 2017

hair drug testingSafety remains a primary reason for drug testing, and that’s just as true in the U.S. as it is in Brazil. The Brazilian government faced serious challenges keeping its streets and highways safe with 40,000 traffic-related deaths annually. The dangers were reflected in data from the World Health Organization, which ranks Brazil fifth in the world for fatal car accidents. Brazilian lawmakers took action in the interest of safety and public health and enacted a mandatory “wide window of detection” test for drugs of abuse for professional drivers in 2016.

Our new case study discusses:

  • The history of drug use in Brazil
  • Advantages of hair drug testing
  • Early findings in overall drug positivity
  • Most commonly-detected drugs
  • U.S. testing regulations for transportation

Hair testing for drugs of abuse is the only drug testing method available that provides up to a 90-day drug use history. With an observed collection that is difficult to cheat, a hair test is the most effective way to evaluate long-term patterns of use, making it an excellent option for pre-employment or random drug testing programs.

Download our new case study about why Brazil chose hair drug testing.

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

new trends in workforce drug useIn the early afternoon of Jan. 4, 1987, an Amtrak train crashed into a locomotive 18 miles northeast of Baltimore, causing 16 deaths and dozens of injuries. In post-accident drug and alcohol testing, the engineer driving the train tested positive for marijuana, although no one noticed anything unusual about his behavior before the crash that day.

The threat of workplace drug use was well-known even before the tragedy. Six years prior to the Amtrak incident, the crash of an aircraft aboard the USS Nimitz spurred an investigation by the U.S. military that found widespread use of drugs among U.S. Navy personnel.

These events helped prompt Congress to pass the Drug-Free Workplace Act in 1988 to address the issue of workforce drug use. The act requires certain federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a condition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency. In 1991, the government also authorized mandatory random drug testing for employees in “safety-sensitive” jobs in industries regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Similarly, the explosive growth of crack cocaine in the United States in the mid-1980s focused attention on the workplace impact of drug use in the private sector. This led to the implementation of workplace drug education, monitoring and employee assistance programs for both public and private employees.

Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the medical and business communities, the rate of positive drug tests in the workforce has declined significantly among employers who have instituted a drug-free workplace policy since the implementation of the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

But this overall trend does not mean that employers, medical professionals, and policymakers can declare victory in the battle against drug use in the workplace. The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ 2016 report offers new evidence of the challenges ahead.

Based on analysis of more than 10 million workforce drug test results, Quest found that, while overall workplace positivity rates have dropped dramatically over the past two decades, drug positivity rates are climbing once again in the American workforce. In 1988, the first year of the Drug Testing Index, the overall positivity rate for all drugs was 13.6%. By 2016, that rate had fallen to 4.2%. While this is a major improvement, the workplace positivity rate has actually increased annually for the past five years and is now at its highest level since 2004.

The positivity rate in urine tests for cocaine increased for the fourth consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce and for the second consecutive year in the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. Methamphetamine positivity has also been on the rise, climbing 64% in the general U.S. workforce and 14% among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers between 2012 and 2016.

The report also found that marijuana positivity continued to increase. In oral fluid testing, which detects recent drug use, the marijuana positivity rate increased nearly 75% in the general workforce, from 5.1% in 2013 to 8.9% in 2016. Marijuana positivity also increased in tests of urine (2.5% in 2016 versus 2.4% in 2015) and hair (7.3% in 2016 versus 7.0% in 2015).

Quest examined state-level data for marijuana, including states with recreational use statutes. In Colorado and Washington, the first states in which recreational marijuana was legalized, the 2016 positivity rate for marijuana outpaced the national average for the first time since the statutes took effect in 2014. The national positivity rate increased 4% between 2015 and 2016, but jumped to 11% in Colorado and 9% in Washington in the same period.

Given this data, it seems reasonable to conclude that the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes will lead to increases in the rates of marijuana use in the workforce, which could affect more and more companies as the legalization movement spreads throughout the country. While current policy discussions are largely focused on marijuana, employers must not lose sight of the other trends in workforce drug positivity. Drug use of any kind can have a major impact on workplace safety and productivity. Employers need to be aware of the problem and take any necessary steps to protect their employees and their workplaces from the threat of drug use.

Robert L. DuPont, MD, is president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to reduce illegal drug use. He was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973-1978) and second White House Drug Chief (1973-1977).

Risk Management magazine features analysis, insights and new from the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS) The “New Trends in Workforce Drug Use” article was published on August 1, 2017.

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

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 →

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 […]

Read the full article →

By the Numbers: Positivity by Drug

October 6, 2016By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post,we take a closer look at positivity by drug which the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) measures using a combination of three factors: drug category, specimen type, and workforce segment. […]

Read the full article →

Drug Abuse Spans the Globe

October 3, 2016International testing

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 according to the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ data. In the United States, the media spotlight on drug-related topics, such as the opioid epidemic, frame drug abuse and addiction […]

Read the full article →

Drug Positivity Rises in the Railroad Industry

September 19, 2016Drug Testing

Drug testing has some early origins in the railroad industry. In 1987, two trains collided in Chase, Maryland killing 12 and making it the deadliest crash in Amtrak’s history. After learning that the crew of the train that failed to stop tested positive for marijuana, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) swiftly overhauled its drug and alcohol […]

Read the full article →

Some Drug Users Can’t Distinguish Between Right and Wrong

August 17, 2016Illicit drugs

Aside from being dangerous and highly addictive, cocaine and methamphetamine may also affect the moral judgment of users. Results from a recent study conducted by Psychopharmacology – an international journal that covers the elucidating mechanisms by which drugs affect behavior – revealed that habitual cocaine and methamphetamine users can have difficulty distinguishing between right and […]

Read the full article →