Drug Testing Trends: What the US Workforce is Using
Employers that stay up to date on drug testing trends are more prepared to handle drug abuse in the workplace. Which is good news considering positive tests for US workers are at a 16-year high across the general workforce.
With positivity rates skyrocketing and more drugs becoming decriminalized, it is increasingly vital that employers understand addiction and how to help employees.
Learning current drug testing trends is a perfect place to start.
Drug Testing Trends Across the US Workforce
Quest Diagnostics’ 2020 drug testing index provides telling data about workforce drug use.
Positive rates were highest (35%) among for-cause tests, followed by post-accident (9%), random (6%), and pre-employment (5%). These trends indicate the ongoing effectiveness of random drug testing programs, as well as the benefits of pre-employment drug testing.
In addition to overall increases in positive workforce drug tests, the Midwest, in particular, has seen a dramatic surge in positivity rates for marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Marijuana remains a hot topic on the minds of employers who are wondering if they should still include marijuana in employment drug testing.
If the data is any indication, the answer is yes.
Overarchingly, positive tests for marijuana continue to climb among the general US workforce, as well as among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive employees.
Compared to 2015, marijuana positivity rates have increased by 29% among the general workforce (up 11% since 2018) and by 24% among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.
By testing type, the positivity rates for marijuana among the general US workforce are as follows:
- Urine testing – 3.1%
- Saliva testing – 9%
- Hair testing – 7%
Since 2015, cocaine positivity rates have risen slightly among the general US workforce, and remained consistent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.
In the Midwest, however, cocaine positivity rates saw a 40% increase since 2015.
By testing type, the positivity rates for cocaine among the general US workforce are as follows:
- Urine testing – 0.25%
- Saliva testing – 0.7%
- Hair testing – 3.2%
Over the last five years, methamphetamine positivity rates have seen a 12% increase among the general US workforce and a similar increase among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.
Comparatively, methamphetamine positives in the Midwest rose 78% over the same period.
By testing type, the positivity rates for methamphetamine among the general US workforce are as follows:
- Urine testing – 1.3%
- Saliva testing – 0.2%
- Hair testing – 2.4%
Since 2015, positive rates for opiate use declined by 49% across the general US workforce, with a similar decline among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive employees.
By testing type, the positivity rates for opiates among the general US workforce are as follows:
- Urine testing – 0.5%
- Saliva testing – 0.1%
- Hair testing – 0.3%
Why Drug Testing Trends Matter
Drug-related deaths have risen alongside positive drug tests, driven largely by methamphetamine, cocaine, and fentanyl.
During the first few months of 2020, drug deaths increased by 13% compared to last year, indicating the consequences of social isolation and other disruptions to daily life caused by COVID-19.
As employees continue to work from home (and once they return to the workplace), drug use may remain an ongoing problem. Employers play an important role in identifying the signs of drug testing and helping employees to overcome addiction. Learn more about drug testing options on our website and give us a call when you’re ready to implement a comprehensive drug testing protocol.