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Test Results Show Increase in Workforce Illicit Drug Use

The percentage of American workers testing positive for illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine has increased for the second consecutive year in the general U.S. workforce, according to results from more than 10 million drug tests released this week by Quest Diagnostics.

The analysis suggests a potential reversal in a 10-year decline.

Quest Diagnostics’ annual Drug Testing Index for 2014 shows the positivity rate for approximately 6.6 million urine drug tests in the general U.S. workforce increased 9.3 percent, from 4.3 percent in 2013 to 4.7 percent in 2014. The overall positivity rate for oral fluid and hair drug tests, representing approximately 1.1 million tests, also increased between 2013 and 2014 in the general U.S. workforce.

“American workers are increasingly testing positive for workforce drug use across almost all workforce categories and drug test specimen types. In the past, we have noted increases in prescription drug positivity rates, but now it seems illicit drug use may be on the rise,” said Dr. Barry Sample, director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. “These  findings are especially concerning because they suggest that the recent focus on illicit marijuana use may be too narrow and that other dangerous drugs are potentially making a comeback.”

“The increases in illicit drug positivity in employment drug testing should get employers and policymakers to take notice of the serious risks these drugs create for productivity, health and safety,” said Robert DuPont, M.D., former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Many of these substances are clearly associated with impaired physical and cognitive functions.”

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