QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI

Cocaine Continues Upward Trend

by Nicole Jupe on June 1, 2017

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant native to South America where many chew its leaves to squash pain, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. By the 1880s, doctors as famous as Sigmund Freud were studying cocaine as a “miracle drug” as an anesthetic for surgery and for a variety of health conditions including anxiety, addiction, and pain. However, by the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were associated with cocaine and an article in The New York Times by Dr. Edward Huntington Williams warned of the drug’s dangers, calling its effects “cocaine-craze insanity.” In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act which banned the non-medical use of cocaine in the United States. Today, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled narcotic with a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

After an analysis of more than ten million workplace drug tests, cocaine made headlines in this year’s Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) report because its positivity rose 12 percent in 2016, reaching a seven-year high of 0.28 percent. The data also pointed to a trend of consecutive year increases of cocaine positivity rates for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and general U.S. workforces. Over time, cocaine positivity has fluctuated in the U.S. general workforce with its highest level of 0.91 percent in 1998 and its lowest positivity rate of 0.23 percent in 2012 according the the DTI.

“In addition, the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests, and was also higher than the rate in random drug tests for both the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive and the general U.S. workforces. While a positive test doesn’t prove drug use caused the accident, it raises the question as to whether it played a role,” said Barry Sample, PhD, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.

The most current findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tell us:

  • An estimated 8.2 percent of adults (aged 26 or older), or 17.1 million people, currently use an illicit drug
  • 580,000 young adults (ages 18-25) and 1.2 million adults currently use cocaine
  • Approximately 31,000 adolescents (ages 12-17), 229,000 young adults, and 637,000 adults suffer from a cocaine use disorder, pointing to dependence and recurrent use that affects health and responsibilities at work, home, or school

Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full report and data.

To search for cocaine positivity rates by 3-digit zip code in the United States for the past 10 years, visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DrugMap.

Download our new Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index brochure.

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: LouisvilleHuman 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 Testing Index: Workforce Drug Test Positivity Rate Increases

September 11, 2014News

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) measures positivity trends based on workplace drug test results. The findings are published as a public service for government, media and industry and are considered a benchmark for national trends. The DTI report examines positivity rates – the proportion of positive results for each drug compared to all […]

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