If you haven’t taken a look at your organization’s workplace drug policy in a while, now may be a good time. Quest Diagnostics just released its 2018 Drug Testing Index, and workforce positivity rates are the highest they’ve been in 10 years.
For the past 30 years, the DTI has provided insight into national workplace drug positivity trends by analyzing data from millions of drug tests. The survey began in 1988, following the passage of the Drug-Free Workplace Act. Back then, the positivity rate among American workers was 13.6%—which seems almost unbelievable these days. Imagine more than 1 in 8 of your employees testing positive for drugs.
By comparison, this year’s figures seem relatively small: 4.2% of all workers tested positive last year—the same percentage as the year before. That’s a little over 1 in 24 employees. Not too bad, right?
Not quite. 1 in 24 is certainly not a number worth celebrating, considering…
- workforce drug positivity appears to be on an upward trend, steadily increasing year after year, from 3.6% in 2008;
- opiate use in the workforce is down 17%, meaning the overall number would actually be lower than last year’s if other drugs weren’t becoming more popular;
- in zero-tolerance and safety-sensitive workplaces, it is unacceptable for any number of employees to test positive.
What’s behind the upward trend? The DTI offers 3 clues:
- Around the US, cocaine positivity has increased by 7%.
- In certain regions, methamphetamine positivity has increased by a factor of three digits (140–167% in states such as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, New York, New Jersey, and other regions east of the Mississippi River).
- Cannabis positivity has increased in states where the substance has been legalized for recreational consumption. Numbers were particularly dramatic in states that recently passed recreational cannabis legislation: Nevada (up 43%), Massachusetts (up 14%), and California (up 11%).
Looking for more information about current drug trends and what your organization can do to ensure a safe workplace? Make sure to read our recent article about drug testing in the era of “legal” marijuana.