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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.

Worldwide Economic Development and Drug Use

by Pablo Bolanos on March 2, 2017

Regardless of where we live in the world, socioeconomic status can influence our life experiences. From the neighborhoods were we grow up, to the extracurricular activities we take part in, many times the circumstances into which we are born can predetermine our futures and the futures of the generations that follow. According to the American Psychological Association, “socioeconomic status is a key factor that influences quality of life for children, youth and families… [and] affects human functioning in many ways, including development across the life span, psychological health and physical health.”

According to  2016 World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, economic growth and poverty are the two most relevant factors in analyzing the links between economic development and drug use around the world. Although lower socioeconomic status is oftentimes quickly linked to a higher prevalence of drug use, research shows the association may not be completely accurate. For example, in the United States, the use of crack cocaine is regularly attributed to lower income communities, but in reality the difference in purity and price between crack cocaine and the powder version we sometimes associate with higher income users is minimal.

In addition to income, there are multiple factors that play into why certain drugs are more commonly used in certain parts of the world:

  • Profitability – Drugs whose production isn’t native to a specific region, like heroin in the United States, will demand higher sales prices and will often take hold in geographies with relatively higher levels of per capita income. This is because drugs can be difficult to acquire, generating higher demand, and therefore higher mark-ups, for drug traffickers and manufacturers
  • Geography – In contrast, regions that are not located near cocaine and heroin production areas, such as all of Africa, experience relatively low instances of reported use of both drugs
  • Wealth – Developed countries and wealthier societies’ propensity to experiment or use multiple drugs “recreationally” has shown to yield higher drug use

The graphic above, courtesy of the World Drug report depicts higher socioeconomic status’ influence on drug use, poverty however, is strongly associated with substance abuse disorders. According to the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), “substance abuse disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.” The difference being that drug dependent people in countries with wide income inequality gaps are trapped in a vicious cycle of hardships and drug use due to factors which include:

  • Breakdown of family as a result of addiction
  • Lack of education
  • Limited access to employment
  • Lack of healthcare

That said, not everyone who lives in a poor community will become addicted to drugs. However, poverty does have strong associations with drug use disorders, whereas countries with middle or higher socioeconomic classes, tend to have a higher prevalence of “recreational” drug use and lower levels of addiction.

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

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 […]

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