Methamphetamine

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.

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, Hartford Business Journal, USA Today: LouisvilleCharleston Post-Courier, Twin Cities Business magazineNew Hampshire Union Leader, Santa Rosa Press DemocratTraverse City Business NewsHuman Resources Executive, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Transport Topics, 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.

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 […]

Read the full article →

Does Workplace Drug Testing Work?

April 15, 2016News

As marijuana becomes more widely accepted, some are questioning if workplace drug testing for marijuana and other illicit drugs is appropriate or even necessary. Some argue that the so-called “war on drugs” is over and, therefore, drug testing provides no value. Yet, the reality is that there is a wealth of empirical research conducted by […]

Read the full article →

Wall Street Journal Reports Rising Workplace Drug Use

June 15, 2015News

The Wall Street Journal published the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ data with a headline declaring that “Workers’ Drug Use Appears to Rise.”  Lauren Weber, WSJ Careers Reporter, wrote that the numbers reflect the reversal of a long trend of declining drug use among workers. Before 2013, drug test positives had dropped nearly every year […]

Read the full article →

Drug Testing Index: Illicit Drug Test Positivity Rate Increases

June 3, 2015News

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) reveals insights into patterns of drug use among the American workforce. Published annually for more than 25 years, the Drug Testing Index examines positivity rates for workplace drug tests. Quest reports these findings as a public service for government, employers, policymakers and the general public. In examining the […]

Read the full article →

Series: Assessing Drug Use Trends in the United States – Amphetamines

April 17, 2015News

Due to the increasing use and abuse of illicit and prescription drugs, employers, public policy decision makers, law enforcement, media and the general public all have an interest in assessing past, current and emerging drug use trends. As such, this installment in our Assessing Drug Use Trends in the United States series uses several renowned […]

Read the full article →