employee drug use

Employee Drug Use is at the Highest Point in a Decade

A new analysis released on May 8th by Quest Diagnostics shows that employee drug use, such as the use of cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana by American workers has increased to it’s high point in over ten years.

The average drug positivity rate for the American workforce was hovering around 4.2% in 2017 and 2016. But that’s quite a variance compared to the 3.5% average drug positivity rate in 2012, which held that record of a 30 year low.

Fortunately, the prescription opiate positivity rate has decreased dramatically on a national basis, but increased recreational marijuana use has risen sharply; particularly in areas where tit has been decriminalized or legalized.

Unfortunately, more harmful drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines has increase sharply in certain areas. States such as Nebraska, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Maryland and Wisconsin experienced a double digit rise in cocaine use, which the midwest and south regions experienced an increase in methamphetamine use.

EHSToday reports the follow drug positivity rate increase for the following states:

  • 167% in the East North Central division of the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin)
  • 160% in the East South Central division of the South (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee)
  • 150% in the Middle Atlantic division of the Northeast (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania)
  • 140% in the South Atlantic division of the South (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia).

The shining light in the research is the low rate of opioid positivity of American workers; a clear and positive sign that the medical community, policy makers, and law makers are making efforts to reduce the impact of our current national opioid crisis.

However, other areas of focus, such as the increase in cocaine and methamphetamine, warrant the need for employers to provide training and strict policy enforcement when it comes to drugs and the workforce.

Employers typically use a urinalysis to determine whether or not an employee uses certain drugs. In states where marijuana is legal, the detection of marijuana prompts company action on a very state by state basis. If you’re a medical or recreational marijuana user, it’s best to be aware of your state’s laws regarding use, your worker rights, and your company’s policies.

Cocaine and methamphetamine are Class 1 (Schedule 1) and Class 2 (Schedule 2) drugs. Cocaine and Marijuana are both Class 1 drugs, meaning they “are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

This has drawn a lot of criticism having those two substances in the same class, as Marijuana has been scientifically proven to have significant medical benefits, and has never been proven to be at high risk for abuse. In states where Marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, it becomes an anomaly, and makes creating a workplace drug policy very tricky.

Have a Policy, Have the Discussion

Having a drug policy that aligns with the states laws regarding certain drugs, and enforcing them clearly can help to eliminate employee drug positivity. Drug and Alcohol training for Employees and Supervisors can also educate employees about the dangers of workplace drug use.

Showing concern for employees’ health and well-being is another way to reduce employee drug use. In fact, investing in employee’s health and wellness has been shown to have significant ROI.