Excerpted from an Quest Diagnostics post
Driven by increases in cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, drug use by the American workforce remains at its highest rate in more than a decade, according to a new analysis released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.
Nationally, the positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce held steady at 4.2 percent in 2017, the same as in 2016, but a dramatic increase over the 3.5 percent positivity rate from 2012, which represented a thirty-year low. The analysis of 2017 data also suggests shifting patterns of drug use, with cocaine and amphetamines positivity surging in some areas of the country and marijuana positivity rising sharply in states with newer recreational use statutes. Prescription opiate positivity rates declined dramatically on a national basis.
For an interactive map with positivity rates and trend lines by three-digit zip code in the United States, visit DTIDrugMap.com.
The findings were unveiled in May at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Drug and Alcohol Program National Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 2018 marks thirty consecutive years of the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI), an analysis of national workplace drug positivity trends based on the company’s de-identified laboratory data. The DTI has revealed insights into drug use in the United States since the Drug-Free Workplace Act was signed into law in 1988. In 1988, the DTI analysis found that the overall drug positivity rate among American workers was 13.6 percent.
“It’s unfortunate that we mark 30 years of the Drug-Free Workplace Act with clear evidence that drugs continue to invade the country’s workplaces. Not only have declines appeared to have bottomed out, but also in some drug classes and areas of the country drug positivity rates are increasing,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics. “These changing patterns and geographical variations may challenge the ability of employers to anticipate the ‘drug of choice’ for their workforce or where to best focus their drug prevention efforts to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.”
Cocaine positivity increases overall, jumps sharply in some areas
The positivity rate for cocaine increased for the fifth consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce across every specimen type. In urine testing, the most common drug test specimen type, the positivity rate for cocaine increased seven percent in the general U.S. workforce (0.28% in 2016 versus 0.30% in 2017). Year-over-year increases were also observed in the general U.S. workforce in oral fluid testing (up 16%) and hair testing (19%).
In the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, for which only urine testing is permitted, cocaine positivity increased by eleven percent (0.28% in 2016 versus 0.31% percent in 2017), representing the third consecutive year of increases in this workforce segment.
A new pattern emerged in this year’s analysis, with cocaine positivity in urine testing increasing significantly in certain states among the general U.S. workforce. Double-digit year-over-year increases in at least four of the five past years were seen in the states of Nebraska (91% increase between 2016 and 2017), Idaho (88% increase), Washington (31%), Nevada (25%), Maryland (22% increase), and Wisconsin (13%).
Methamphetamine positivity skyrockets in Midwest and South regions
An analysis of trends in the general U.S. workforce based on the four U.S. Census regions identified large increases of methamphetamine positivity rates. Between 2013 and 2017, methamphetamine positivity increased: 167 percent in the East North Central division of the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin);160 percent in the East South Central division of the South (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee); 150 percent in the Middle Atlantic division of the Northeast (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania); and 140 percent in the South Atlantic division of the South (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia). The percentage increase in these four divisions ranged between nine percent and 25 percent between 2016 and 2017.
You can read the full post here.