Morphine

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.

Drug Positivity Rises in the Railroad Industry

by Nicole Jupe on September 19, 2016

railwayDrug 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 program. In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act that required all U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies to implement drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ recently reported that 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. As illicit drug use by American workers rises, evidence shows a similar pattern in the railroad industry which includes engineers, train crew and dispatchers.

The Washington Post reported that drug use is skyrocketing in the railroad industry stating, “Testing in 2016 has shown that nearly 8 percent of workers involved in rail accidents were positive for drug use, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, benzodiazepine, OxyContin and morphine.” The data also revealed:

  • The number of post-accident drug positives was the highest since the FRA began keeping records in 1987, three times greater than it was 10 years ago.
  • The number of railway workers who tested positive for drug use in random tests soared 43 percent last year.
  • Of the 25,000 railroad workers who repair train engines and rail cars, FRA testing found alcohol use was five times higher than among railway workers who performed other tasks

“We are seeing a trend going in the wrong direction, and we must address it immediately,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

Regulators, transportation safety experts, union leaders and railroad leaders began meeting in the spring to discuss the problem.  Recently, the FRA issued a new rule that requires track maintenance workers, about 70 percent of the railroad workforce, to be tested for drugs in addition to those already being tested.  Random drug testing can be a strong deterrent to employee drug use as it is conducted in a repetitive, unannounced and unpredictable manner.

A spokesperson for the Association of American Railroads told The Wall Street Journal that ,“(it) recognizes the seriousness of the situation and is ready to work with the FRA to make railroads safer, including testing for synthetic opioids.” Workers and railroad unions are petitioning for an extension of the effective date to allow time to train supervisors about substance abuse.

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

On November 17, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that Federal regulators rejected an effort by the railroad industry to delay a proposed expansion of mandatory drug and alcohol testing, saying that a “crisis” of drug abuse requires immediate action. Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg said delaying track workers from being included in the group of railroad employees tested for drugs and alcohol would delay the important work of preventing injuries and fatalities. In rejecting that argument, the FRA said the requirement was in accord with existing regulations, and mirrored similar compliance rules it has in other segments of the industry.”

 

Spotlight on the Prescription Drug Epidemic

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Challenging the Poppy Seed Defense

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The “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 […]

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