fentanyl

Quest Diagnostics Health Trends studies are published in peer-reviewed medical journals and by the company as a public service. The research features insights and analysis from a large database of laboratory data. Most recently, we released the Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights in the Growing Drug Epidemic report, which examined 3.4 million prescription medication monitoring lab tests. Analysis includes results from patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia performed by Quest between 2011 and 2016.

The study found that, while evidence of misuse has declined in recent years, 52% of test results showed evidence of potential misuse in 2016, suggesting a majority of patients took their prescribed drugs in ways that were inconsistent with their physician’s instruction. By comparison, in 2011, 63% of test results were inconsistent with physician orders. Misuse is defined as a patient taking prescribed drugs in a way that is inconsistent with a physician’s instruction.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • More than half of patient specimens (52%) showed signs of prescription drug misuse.
  • 19% of specimens that tested positive for heroin were also positive for non-prescribed fentanyl. This combination of drugs heightens the risk of a drug overdose death.
  • Misuse rates were even higher for men and women of reproductive age (58%) than in the general study population (52%). Men were more likely to use marijuana and women were more likely to use non-prescribed benzodiazepines.
  • The most commonly detected drug used by young adults is marijuana, while older adults prefer to use benzodiazepines.
  • One in three adolescents (ages 10 – 17 years old) tested showed signs of drug misuse in 2016, a major improvement from 70% in 2011.

The study also found dangerous drug combinations are common. Among more than 33,000 specimens tested for opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol in 2016, more than 20% were positive for both opioids and benzodiazepines, more than 10% were positive for both opioids and alcohol, and 3% were positive for all three.

As our country faces an epidemic of prescription drug misuse, objective laboratory data can help to assist healthcare providers in assessing patients’ use of prescribed medications and other illicit drugs and educate the public about the associated health risks. We offer full line of lab-based drug testing services to help identify the appropriate and inappropriate use of prescription drugs.

See our interactive map showing drug misuse nationally and by state.

Download the complete report.

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

New data shows 1 in 10 Americans use drugs

by Nicole Jupe on September 25, 2017

More states than ever before allow the recreational use of marijuana, a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Opiate abuse claims 91 lives each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If users can’t obtain painkillers, they seek potent, cheaper alternatives like fentanyl or heroin. In short, drug use in our society continues to increase. To understand what’s trending, we must pay attention to the number of emergency room visits, poison control calls, drug seizures, law enforcement reports of drug-related activities, laboratory drug testing results, and surveys of the population.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is published annually and is one of the most trusted sources of statistical information about substance use and misuse. The NSDUH has interviewed individuals aged 12 and older in the United States since 1988. Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, its goals are to provide accurate national and state-level patterns of use, to assess the consequences of drug abuse, and to identify high-risk groups.

Survey questions focus on tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use, as well as substance use disorders, treatment, and mental illness. The research organizes illicit drugs into 10 categories: marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives. Additionally, the survey presents data in three distinct age segments—ages 12 to 17, 18 to 25, and 26 and older— in order to examine trends among adolescents, young adults, and adults.

Results from the most recent survey were released this month. Highlighted below are some key findings for individuals aged 12 or older:

  • About 28.6 million Americans used an illicit drug in the past month, equating to 1 in 10 people.
  • Illicit drug use continues to be driven primarily by marijuana, with an estimated 24 million current users.
  • The data showed 11.5 million people misused pain relievers and 948,000 used heroin.
  • Relieving physical pain was cited by 62.3% of people as the primary reason for misusing pain relievers. Fifty-three percent of that group were given or bought pills from friends or relatives.
  • Almost 2 million people are current users of cocaine.
  • Current users of methamphetamine totaled 667,000 people. The survey found that the majority of methamphetamine is made illegally, not by pharmaceutical companies.
  • Approximately 7.4 million people suffered from illicit drug use disorders with marijuana disorder as the most common (4 million people). An estimated 21 million people needed treatment for a disorder.
  • An estimated 136.7 million people were current alcohol users, with 65.3 million binge drinkers and 16.3 million heavy drinkers within that group.

Download the full report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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

DEA proposal to curb production of prescription drugs

August 24, 2017News

On August 7, 2017 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a proposal which would establish a production limit on the manufacturing of several controlled substances starting in 2018. This reduction is supported by data obtained from IMS Health and will impact the production of commonly prescribed Schedule II opioid painkillers such as: Oxycodone Hydrocodone Oxymorphone […]

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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 […]

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Fentanyl Crisis Continues

April 26, 2017Drug Testing

Without the careful monitoring of a licensed physician, opioids can be deadly. The National Center on Health Statistics shows that in 2015 alone, more than 17,000 people died from opioid pain relievers, in addition to the 19,000 who died as a result of their use of heroin and other illicit opioids. In total, the percentage […]

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Marijuana Remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance

August 22, 2016News

In 1996, medical marijuana became legal in California, and since then, 24 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted similar laws. In addition, four states have passed initiatives legalizing the sale, distribution, and consumption of marijuana while the federal government remains steadfast in their scheduling of the drug. Recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied two […]

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DEA Report Details Heroin Threat

July 1, 2016News

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published the 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary on June 27, 2016, detailing the threat of heroin and opioid drug abuse in the United States. Heroin is now available in larger quantities, it is being used by a greater number of people, and it is causing an increasing number […]

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Fentanyl In the News

June 29, 2016Urine testing

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Used to treat pain, it is categorized as a Schedule II drug and carries a “black box warning” from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to call attention […]

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Spotlight on the Prescription Drug Epidemic

June 16, 2016News

Autopsy results released earlier this month confirmed that a fentanyl overdose was the cause of death for 57 year old, multi-platinum recording artist – Prince. The death of such a prominent pop culture figure generated media headlines across the world, helping to bring public awareness about the prescription drug epidemic our country is facing. MarketWatch […]

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Even Physicians can be a Drug Abuse Risk

March 30, 2010Urine testing

Quest Diagnostics offers Medical Professional panels that are designed to detect drug abuse among physicians and other healthcare professionals. Despite their knowledge and training, medical professionals can be just as high a risk to abuse drugs as the general population. Drug abuse by medical professionals can result in loss of careers, risk to patient care, and […]

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