Why does employee drug use matter?

Dr. Barry Sample, Director of Science and Technology at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, recently wrote an article for Risk Management Monitor, a publication that offers insight to professionals in the risk management and insurance industry. The article highlights current drug use trends and how they affect the workplace.

Data from the 2013 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) – a report which examines positivity data based on the results of 8.5 million urine, oral fluid and hair drug tests in the United States – showed the percentage of employees who tested positive for drugs increased for the first time in 10 years. This data is relevant when considering an employee drug testing program, a correlation Dr. Sample further supports in the article by providing key findings from the DTI:

  • Marijuana continues to be the most commonly detected illicit drug
  • Methamphetamine positivity increased by 50% in oral fluid tests
  • Positivity rates for amphetamines are at an all-time high
  • In the combined U.S. workforce, marijuana positivity increased 6.2%, to 1.7% in 2013 compared to 1.6% in 2012
  • Marijuana positivity rates in Colorado and Washington increased 20% and 23% respectively, in comparison to the 5% average increase among the U.S. general workforce in all 50 states

In the article, Dr. Sample discusses the impacts that employee drug use can have on the workplace. While the costs of substance abuse are significant, studies also show that drug-using employees are 2.5 times more likely to miss work and 5 times more likely to file a workers compensation claim. As a result of these striking statistics, many employers elect to manage their risk by implementing comprehensive drug-free workplace programs which have been shown to improve productivity, workplace safety and even employee morale.

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