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Workforce drug use increasing: Study

Workforce drug use increasing: Study

Marijuana was the most commonly detected substance, with the highest drug positivity rate of all drug classes across the majority of industry sectors, according to a study released Wednesday by Quest Diagnostics Inc., which found double-digit percentage increases in nearly one-third of the industry segments it examined.  

Marijuana positivity was highest in accommodation and food services, at 3.5% positivity in 2017, more than 34% higher than the national positivity rate of 2.6% for the general U.S. workforce, according to the new report by the large drug diagnostics firm headquartered in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Overall, Quest found that overall drug use by the U.S. workforce increased by double digits between 2015 and 2017 in five of 16 major U.S. industry sectors analyzed, according to a first-ever analysis of industry-specific data from more than 10 million urine drug test results performed by Quest.

The data also found that eight sectors experienced year-over-year increases with at least 20% increases in marijuana positivity rates between 2015 and 2017:

  • Transportation and warehousing (33.3%)
  • Other services, except public administration (33.3%)
  • Construction (26.7%)
  • Wholesale trade (23.5%)
  • Manufacturing (23.1%)
  • Accommodation and food services (20.7%)
  • Administrative support, waste management and remediation services (19.0%)
  • Retail trade (18.5%)

Of the highest overall figures for all drugs in 2017, the industry analysis show that 5.3% of those in the retail trade tested positive, 4.7% in the health care and social assistance industry, and 4.6% in real estate rental and leasing sectors. The utilities and finance and insurance sectors had the lowest rates, at 2.8% and 2.6%, respectively.

Five sectors experienced double-digit increases in their drug positivity rates between 2015 and 2017: transportation and warehousing, 21.4%; “other services (except public administration),” 15.4%; finance and insurance, 13%; retail trade, 12.8%; and wholesale trade, 11.8%.

Other drug categories also saw increases:

  • Amphetamine use also rose, with the positivity rate growing by nearly 14% between 2015 and 2017 in the educational services sector and by nearly 16% in the health care and social assistance sector, according to the report.
  • Methamphetamine positivity was highest in the construction sector in each of the three years analyzed, and experienced a 15% increase during that period.
  • Cocaine positivity is higher in most sectors with following sectors experienced the greatest year-over-year increases in cocaine positivity between 2015 and 2017: retail trade (42.9%);
  • administrative support, waste management and remediation services (35.3%);
  • transportation and warehousing (22.7%).

“Our analysis suggests that employers can’t assume that workforce drug use isn’t an issue in their industry,” Barry Sample, senior director, science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, said in a statement.

“As companies consider strategies to protect their workplaces, they should also consider the risks that employees who use drugs present to their co-workers, customers and the general public,” Kimberly Samano, scientific director, employer solutions for Quest Diagnostics, said in the statement. “This new analysis suggests that an increasing number of applicants and employees across various industries may be misusing dangerous drugs.” 








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