Drug Tests Positivity Rates Increase Among American Workers

An unsettling trend has recently begun sweeping the nation; the percentage of American workers testing positive for drug tests has increased for the first time in over a decade. Following the analysis of over 8.5 million urine, oral fluid and hair drug tests, Quest Diagnostics confirmed that marijuana and methamphetamines are the leading drugs responsible for the spike in positive results among the workforce. Quest has organized their information to include 3 different categories of workers:  “employees with private companies (U.S. general workforce); employees subject to federal drug testing rules, including safety-sensitive truck drivers, train operators, airline and nuclear power plant workers (federally mandated safety-sensitive workers); and a combination of both groups (combined U.S. workforce).” Since 2003, combined national workplace urine drug tests had not increased; however, the year-over-year percentage has recently shown an increase from 3.5% in 2012 and 3.7% in 2013 to 5.7% (see Table 1 below).


Marijuana positivity rates alone have increased by 6.2%  among national urine tests. In Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized (although not by the federal government), this percentage has soared to double digits. The increase in marijuana positivity rates is also notable in Quest’s oral fluid testing, which utilizes its innovative technology to accurately detect for recent drug use. In 2012, the positivity rate for such tests substantially grew by 48% and continued to increase in 2013 by 27%. In addition to marijuana, amphetamines (more specifically, the use of methamphetamines) have shown an incline in all types of drug testing. This is also true for all 3 categories of workers. Among urine tests, the combined workforce showed an increase of 10% and the general workforce by 27%. Across all categories, use of amphetamines in urine tests has shown an increase of 8% from 2012 to 2013 (see Table 7 below). Even more staggering results are the increases in positive oral fluid testing at 50% and hair testing at 55%.


If there is one thing to take away from this, it is that employers must become more cautious and aware of the fact that their employees could potentially be abusing drugs. Workplace drug testing provides employers the opportunity to ensure the safety of their staff and the public by halting drug abuse at the source. The recommendation of Quest is to use of pre-employment and random drug testing. The Pre-Check Company has been in a partnership with Quest for 22 years. During that time, we have offered numerous solutions to, first, help prevent substance abusers from entering the employment door; second, to keep the workplace safe from those who would abuse drugs through random and post-accident drug testing. The Quest/Pre-Check partnership offers over 8,000 collection sites across the United States to serve you. Pre-Check stands committed to our motto of “Helping You Hire the Best!” For more information about Pre-Check, please contact Bob Drusendahl at 216-226-7700 with any questions you may have.

For further results and information, please visit the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index.

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