U.S. General Workforce Drug Positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019

Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. According to their findings, the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 16-year high in 2019. For example, positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to 4.5%, the highest level since 2003—and more than 28% percent higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Here are a few key index findings from Quest:

  • Marijuana positivity continues to top the list of most commonly detected substances across all U.S. workforce categories, reaching 3.1% in 2019. This of course is led by positivity in recreational use states. And we hear you . . . it’s hard enough keeping track of evolving legalization legislation. Here’s a website with comprehensive information that may be a good resource in addition to our own compliance updates each month.
  • Specific regions of the United States, particularly the West and Midwest, experienced increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine in 2019. Positivity increased to as high as 0.28% in these areas. 
  • Methamphetamine positivity continues to increase across multiple specimen types. General U.S. workforce categories reached positivity a positivity rate of 0.19% in 2019, when analyzing results from urine, hair, and oral fluid testing.
  • When looking across classifications based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the Retail Trade category has been identified by Quest as holding the top spot for industry-specific positivity since 2015.
  • And, since 2015, the post-accident positivity rate has increased each year in the general U.S. workforce, reaching 9.1% in 2019.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their Drug Testing Index.

Will COVID-19 prove to further these trends?

As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.

This combination of external forces can very easily lead to worsening heath issues and the opportunity to perhaps abuse alcohol or drugs—even among those who would not normally be inclined to do so. It’s not simply an issue of those at risk relapsing into prior addictive behavior.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for abuse due to COVID-19 related anxiety and strain, it is critical to continue your focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Your company may be operating with a remote workforce, and you may be in the fortunate position to welcome new employees to the team over the coming weeks and months. Screening employees for substance abuse before they begin working for you—or if you have begun to see sharp declines in remote productivity among current employees—can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to keep a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company.

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