SHRM in the Big Easy

by Bonnie Bush on July 13, 2017

New Orleans has a rich history that spans back to the 1700s. The city’s pulse beats through marvelous jazz musicians, street performers, and some of the world’s most diverse and delicious food. No other city in the United States quite compares. This eclectic stage lent itself to a lively conference held by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). My first impression of SHRM was a jazz band that greeted me at the baggage carousel. The music was just a taste of the energy that was to come.

The annual SHRM conference attracts more than 15,000 attendees from all over the world to share HR solutions and best practices. The three-day conference was packed with sessions, demonstrations, networking, and a bustling exhibit floor. While working at the Quest Diagnostics booth, it became clear just how well human resources professionals relate to people. Our booth had friendly visitors all day and many swung by just to say thank you for the support.

It was clear that our drug testing solutions aid in the employee recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process. One attendee after the next reiterated that drug screening programs help them search for capable, talented, drug-free job applicants. This frequent comment mirrors industry research that shows people who use drugs are less likely to work for employers that conduct pre-employment or random drug testing. With that in mind, although many attendees knew Quest, there were a number of great questions about the complexities of administering drug-free workplace programs.

What is the best drug test type for remote employees?
A drug test collection in the field can be challenging for employers hiring remote and rural employees. Instant urine drug tests can be completed regardless of the location and sent to a lab to confirm positive test results. Oral fluid testing is another popular option because of its simple to conduct, observed collection process that’s tough for donors to cheat.

Does Quest conduct drug testing internationally?
Yes. Quest Diagnostics operates facilities in the United States, India, Mexico, and Australia. International drug test specimen types include urine, oral fluid, hair, and instant.

Does Quest offer 24-hour drug test collections on a national scale?
Yes. We have more than 6,000 certified collectors throughout the U.S. that provide around-the-clock access, especially in cases of emergencies or accidents. Our 24/7 call center dispatches a trained collector who typically completes the collection within 2 hours of the call.

How quickly can my company get a drug test result?
Each of our four laboratories located around the country measure turnaround times from the moment a the drug test specimen enters the lab until the time when we release the final result. That said, turnaround times depend on the specimen type, reason for testing, and if the test is positive or negative.

This year, the liveliness of the city of New Orleans was matched by the energy and enthusiasm of the SHRM attendees. We’ll exhibit again at next year’s conference in Chicago, and you’re invited to come and visit with us at our booth.

Stay connected with Quest Diagnostics on LinkedIn and Facebook.

For more information 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

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 or contact us online.

By The Numbers: Oral Fluid Positivity

October 12, 2016By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we examine the surge in oral fluid drug testing positivity over the past three years. Laboratory-based oral fluid is reliable for detecting recent drug use, and because the collection is […]

Read the full article →

Painkiller Abuse and the Workplace

April 13, 2016News

“A Hidden Epidemic” was the cover story in last month’s issue of HR magazine. The article discusses the enormous toll prescription painkiller abuse is taking on the workplace. Author Dori Meinert interviewed several human resources professionals to gain perspective on why employees are grappling with addiction. Many employees may not seek help because they fear […]

Read the full article →

Drug Test Toolbox Webinar Highlights

March 31, 2016Webinars

“A drug-free workplace program is a safety program for employees as well as a company’s pledge to protect its customers and assets,” said Lisa Ruehle, Compliance Specialist at Quest Diagnostics, who recently presented the webinar Drug Testing Toolbox. She shared criteria employers should consider when building and maintaining a workplace drug and alcohol testing program. […]

Read the full article →

Webinar: Drug Testing Toolbox

March 1, 2016Webinars

Our upcoming webinar called “Drug Testing Toolbox” offers an opportunity to learn from an expert with decades of experience in drug-free workplace programs, policy, collections, audits and compliance. Our goal is to aid in your efforts to build, implement and maintain a successful program that deters employee drug use. Our presenter, Lisa Ruehle SHRM-CP, PHR, […]

Read the full article →

Comparing Policies in States with Legalized Marijuana

December 23, 2015Illicit drugs

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a first-of-its kind survey to better understand and compare substance abuse policies in states where medical and recreational marijuana is legal. SHRM asked more than 600 human resource (HR) managers about their drug-free workplace policies as they relate to how they hire, reasons for drug testing, general […]

Read the full article →

Connect with Quest at SHRM 2015

June 24, 2015News

With an expected attendance of more than 15,000 people, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition is the largest human resources (HR) event in the world, providing HR professionals and their organizations with tools, resources and information critical to implementing successful HR practices. The conference features more than 200 presentations with […]

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 →