Drug testing positivity rates at highest level in fifteen years

According to the recently released Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, drug positivity rates for 2018 climbed to the highest level in fifteen years.

Positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased nearly five percent in urine drug tests (4.2% in 2017 versus 4.4% in 2018), climbing to the highest level since 2004 (4.5%) and are now more than 25 percent higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5 percent recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Marijuana has traditionally been the substance with the highest positive rate. This year is no exception. The rate of marijuana positivity for the general workforce population increased approximately eight percent in urine testing (2.6% in 2017 versus 2.8% in 2018) and almost 17 percent since 2014 (2.4%).

Positivity rates for opiates (mostly codeine and morphine) declined nearly 21 percent between 2017 and 2018 (0.39% versus 0.31%), the largest drop in three years and nearly 37 percent since 2015 (0.49%).

Heroin positivity rates declined for both the general and safety-sensitive workforce groups. Urine drug tests for the general workforce for heroin declined six percent from 2017 (0.033%) to 2018 (0.031%) and more than 16 percent in 2015 and 2016 (0.037%).

Our in-depth analysis shows that marijuana is not only present in our workforce, but use continues to increase,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics.

“As marijuana policy changes, and employers consider strategies to protect their employees, customers and general public, employers should weigh the risks that drug use, including marijuana, poses to their business.”

For more information, read the full release from Quest Diagnostics here.

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