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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, ExamOne blogWSJ: The 10-Point, Construction Equipment, EHS Today, Kansas City Star, Baltimore Sun, Human Resources Executive, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and USA TODAY Snapshot.

In addition, the Jimmy Kimmel Live show asked cited Quest Diagnostics data and in its Pedestrian Question segment asked people if they have ever been high at work.

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.

Challenging the Poppy Seed Defense

by Nicole Jupe on October 16, 2015

poppy-seed-rollThe “poppy seed defense” or the claim that ingesting poppy seeds is the reason for a failed drug test has long been used to challenge drug test results. A Seinfeld episode brought it into the mainstream with a story line where Elaine Benes tests positive for opium on her company’s urine drug test and blames the result on her favorite breakfast, a poppy seed muffin. In 2011, MythBusters, a Discovery Channel program told viewers that the myth was “definitely true” as producers ate poppy seed bread and bagels and then generated a positive result on an instant urine drug test. To date, there is limited research published about the impact of poppy seed consumption and opiate drug test results in controlled studies in alternative matrices such as oral fluid.

We know poppy seeds contain opiates – specifically morphine and codeine. Ultimately, what employers want to understand from drug testing experts is: Can eating poppy seeds produce a positive drug test for a job applicant or employee?

In an article published in the October 2015 Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) Special Issue of the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, scientists from Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions compared the impact of the consumption of raw poppy seeds and a poppy containing food product on urine and oral fluid drug tests. For individuals performing safety-sensitive duties as well as other workers subject to routine drug testing for opiates, it is important to distinguish between dietary poppy seed ingestion and non-prescribed opiate or heroin abuse.

Study authors determined morphine and codeine concentrations using laboratory-based urine and oral fluid drug screening and confirmation methodologies after study participants ate a Ukrainian-style poppy seed roll and raw poppy seeds. By ingesting cooked and raw poppy seeds and then measuring drug concentrations over a series of intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 20 hours, the study showed a distinction between the source of poppy seeds ingested (i.e. raw or prepared) and the amount of time morphine and codeine were detected in both urine and oral fluid matrices.  

“The research tells us that it is possible to test positive on a drug test for morphine – even less so for codeine – after eating poppy seed-containing products. A unique characteristic of this study is that it compared the consumption of approximately the same amount of poppy seeds in both a prepared food item and as raw seeds and included the collection of both urine and oral fluid specimens. Unlike urine, the likelihood is much lower in oral fluid.  Not surprisingly, most of the positive test findings and longest detection window resulted from ingestion of the large quantity of raw poppy seeds in a very short period of time prior to specimen collection. In fact, many of the study participants found such an amount of raw seeds to be extremely unpalatable. The results from this study suggest that there is less of a ‘poppy seed defense’ from a donor who completes an oral fluid drug test after casual dietary poppy seed consumption rather than a urine test because of the  shorter detection window of oral fluid,” said Dr. Kimberly Samano, Postdoctoral Fellow, Quest Diagnostics.

This coming week, the Concentrations of Morphine and Codeine in Paired Oral Fluid and Urine Specimens Following Ingestion of a Poppy Seed Roll and Raw Poppy Seeds paper and its insights will be presented at the Society of Forensic Toxicologists annual meeting October 18 to October 23 in Atlanta.

Download the full paper from the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.

Download the Challenging the Poppy Seed Defense white paper from Quest Diagnostics.

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

Study authors include Dr. Kimberly L. Samano, Postdoctoral Fellow, Quest Diagnostics; Randal E. Clouette, Director of Esoteric Testing, Quest Diagnostics; Barbara J. Rowland, Director of Laboratory Operations and Logistics, Quest Diagnostics; and Dr. Barry Sample, Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics.

New to Drug Testing: Cold Medicine’s Effect on Drug Test Results

December 20, 2013New to Drug Testing

Week #33 The holidays are almost here and the temperature in Kansas City has dropped below freezing. This typically means that the cold and flu season has begun, and as such, questions surrounding cold medicines and their impact on drug test results begin to arise. Many common prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications contain drugs such […]

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Opiates Now Primary Drugs of Abuse

August 14, 2012News

National Treatment Admissions for Opiates Continue to Increase Admissions for the primary abuse of opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, have increased steadily from 1.0 percent in 1997 to 8.6 percent in 2010, according to the national Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). Opiates now surpass cocaine (8.1 percent) and Methamphetamine (5.7 percent) as the […]

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Cold Medicines and Drug Test Results

November 15, 2010News

With cooler weather around the corner, cold and flu season is not far off. During cold and flu season, questions surrounding common cold medicines and their impact on drug testing results commonly arise. Some common prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications may contain drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, and sympathomimetics, which have been reported to affect […]

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