Worker Drug Test Positivity Highest in 16 Years

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workforce drug testing

Even prior to COVID-19, the U.S. workforce exhibited a troubling trend in employer drug testing positivity, according to the latest Quest Diagnostics analysis.

Pre-pandemic research by the diagnostic services provider found that the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 16-year high in 2019.  In particular, positivity rates rose in urine drug tests, climbing to their highest level since 2003 (4.5%). This reflects a more than 28% increase over the 30-year low of 3.5 percent recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Marijuana continues to top the list of the most detected illicit substances across all workforce categories and specimen types (urine, oral fluid, and hair), the analysis found. Also, marijuana positivity climbed by double digits across nearly all employee testing categories.

In other U.S. data highlights:

  • Drug deaths rose 5 percent in 2019, driven largely by methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl, following a decline in 2018.
  • Between 2019 and 2018. methamphetamine positivity inched up nearly 6 percent in general U.S. workforce tests.  However, this same metric fell 6.3 percent in federally mandated, safety-sensitive testing.
  • In the general U.S. workforce, positivity for opiates in urine drug testing continues to decline across all opiate categories.

Drug Use During COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, experts worry that pandemic-induced stress, grief, and financial strain will exacerbate the rise in drug testing positivity for some time to come. A brief from the American Medical Association reports increases by more than 40 states in opioid-related mortality during the pandemic. In response, New Jersey and other states have organized free giveaways of Naloxone to treat narcotic overdose in emergency situations.

Employer Drug Testing Solutions

These sobering trends threaten not only employee health but also workplace safety. Consequently, businesses should remind new hires and existing staff of their drug-free workforce program and employer drug testing policies. Beyond health and safety, other benefits of a drug-free workplace include lower turnover rates, less absenteeism, and greater productivity.

Mobile Health supports drug-free workplace policies by providing a range of on- or offsite employer drug testing services:

The occupational health provider can help employers determine the best drug test for their industry. Options range from the common 5-panel urine test to 6-panel drug tests to the 12-panel drug test. Clients can schedule next-day drug testing appointments at 2,700+ provider locations nationwide, or request on-site drug testing.

Contact Mobile Health today to tailor a panel drug-testing program to meet your organization’s health and safety requirements.