Upward Trend of Positive Drug Tests

2019: U.S. workers tested positive for illicit drugs at the highest rate in 16 years. A possible trend that could continue this year as a symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Quest Diagnostics’ annual analysis.

Researchers examined more than 9 million sample results taken last year for Quest Diagnostics’ Drug Testing Index from the combined U.S. workforce. This includes both the general workforce and employees in safety-sensitive jobs who are subject to federal-mandate drug testing. The finding—4.5% of the samples were positive – the highest percentage since 2003 and an increase from 4.4% in 2018.

According to Quest Diagnostics, “The enormous strain caused by COVID-19 may prove to be an accelerant on this disturbing trend. Organizations will need to consider the impact of COVID-19 not only on workplace safety but also as a health concern for their employees for some time to come.”

Other items to note:

  • Methamphetamine positivity climbed almost 12% from 2015 to 2019 in the overall workforce.
    • Including a rapid increase in the Midwest, where rates increased almost 78% over the five-year span.
  • From 2015 to 2019, positive tests for cocaine in the West rose to 0.23% from 0.15% – a 53% increase.
    • The Midwest experienced a 40% increase in cocaine positivity over that span.
  • Marijuana remained the most commonly detected illicit substance across all workforce categories and specimen testing types.

Now is the time – employers should review their existing drug testing or substance abuse policies and determine how to address any applicant or employee’s positive test result.

This information has been prepared by Validity Screening Solutions for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. The content is intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and any specific legal questions you may have.