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American Workers Are Increasingly Failing Their Mandatory Work Drug Tests

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    AMERICA - The number of positive drug tests by U.S. employees is on the rise. Fueled by an increase in employee use of marijuana and amphetamines, the number of failed drug tests has gone up for the first time in more than a decade, according to research from Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic information services firm.

    An analysis of 7.6 million urine drug tests revealed a 3.7 percent failure rate in 2013, compared with a rate of 3.5 in 2012, a relative increase of more than 5 percent. This is the first time the rate of positive tests has gone up since 2003. Additionally, among the 800,000 oral fluid drug tests, 6.7 percent returned positive results, up from 4.2 percent in 2009. Hair tests also saw a significant increase, with 7.4 percent of the 190,000 tests being positive. That 's a relative increase of nearly 25 percent from a year ago.

    "After years of declines, the prevalence of positive workforce drug tests is increasing," Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, said in a statement. "This increase indicates that employers should be aware of the potential for drug use by their workers and the risk that represents for the health and safety of their employees and the public."

    Marijuana continues to be the most commonly detected illicit drug, according to the research. Positive marijuana tests in the U.S. workforce, which includes employees with private companies and employees subject to federal drug testing rules, such as safety-sensitive truck drivers, train operators, airline and nuclear power plant workers, increased to 1.7 percent in 2013. [Employee Background Checks: What's Legal, What's Not ]

    Colorado and Washington, the two states that made recreational marijuana use legal in the past year, saw huge jumps in the number of failed drug tests. Failed drug tests because of cannabis use increased 20 percent in Colorado and 23 percent in Washington state since 2012. The overall increase in all 50 states was 5 percent.

    The huge increase can't all be attributed to the legalization of the drug in those states, researchers said. They noted that both Colorado and Washington experienced dramatic increases in positive tests for marijuana prior to legalization at the end of 2012.

    Washington and Colorado are believed by many to foreshadow future trends in "recreational" marijuana use, Sample said."While Quest's Drug Testing Index shows dramatic spikes in marijuana positivity rates over the past year, a longer view of the data suggests a more complex picture," Sample said. "It is possible that relaxed societal views of marijuana use in those two states, relative to others, may in part be responsible for the recent increase in positivity rates."

    Sample said in general, it's clear that marijuana use among workers is definitely on the rise across the United States. "It is important for people to remember that while some states have legalized marijuana, the federal government has not," he said. "Employers generally have the authority to restrict the 'recreational' use of marijuana by employees and impose sanctions, including termination, on employees with positive drug tests in all 50 states."

    In addition to marijuana, amphetamine use – specifically the use of methamphetamine – is also on the rise among U.S. workers. The research revealed a 10 percent increase this year in the number of failed drug tests because of amphetamine use.

    One drug that has seen a drop in the number of failed drug tests is oxycodone. For the second year in a row, positive drug tests because of oxycodone declined. Specifically, oxycodone positivity declined 8.3 percent between 2013 and 2012 and 12.7 percent between 2012 and 2011.

    By Chad Brooks - Business News Daily/September 15, 2014


    Photo: Janaburson.wordpress.com

    Newshawk Crew​

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Booty love
    Here in Denver, there are alot of construction companies that don't drug test. Unlike Georgia and Arkansas where most constuction companies drug test. Premployment drug tests, to me, are aimed mainly at pot smokers. Everything else gets out of your system much quicker and is easier to plan around a drug test.
  2. Diverboone
    If we use the numbers reported by Quest and a 99% accuracy rate. The odds of being wrongfully accused of failing a Safety Sensitive drug test are 1 in every 2.6 people reported as positive. I just don't understand how that's acceptable.
  3. jazzyj9
    People who work in healthcare get screened most of the time. But usually they send it to the lab so conformation testing can be performed if there is a positive during screening. I don't understand why everyone should be drug tested though. It makes sense for jobs that require the employee to be responsible enough to minimize harm while doing their jobs. Airline pilots, people in the medical profession, fire fighters, etc. If people can't hold out long enough to pass a pee test, maybe they do have a problem that should be addressed.

    Testing every body for every job doesn't make sense to me. Who cares if the guy working at a gas station is a crack head. If they can get the job done, I don't care. Maybe employers think that employees with drug issues are more likely to steal or get them into trouble somehow. I think there would need to be studies to show it really helped anything. Anyone who drug tests should do confirmation tests to assure legit results since the implications are so severe for positive results.
  4. Booty love
    Drug testing should only be aimed at drug use while on the job only, like with alcohol. who cares if someone gets high on their own time. Hard drug use will eventually show itself to your coworkers but the occasional drug user/hard worker and the company that fires them, are the ones that really lose from drug testing.
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