Drug use among workers on declineNews added by Benefits Pro on November 25, 2013
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By Allen Greenberg

Drug use among American workers is down by nearly 75 percent over the past 25 years, although the rate of positive test results for certain drugs, including amphetamine and opiates, continues to climb.

That finding is based on an analysis of workplace drug test results released this week by Quest Diagnostics, a testing company.

"The (1988) Drug-Free Workplace Act and the public and private initiatives it helped to spur have led to steep declines in drug use among much of the American workforce," said Laura Shelton, executive director, Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association. "While more needs to be done to reduce illicit drug use by workers, we should take heart from the tremendous progress employers have made to create safer workplaces for millions of Americans."

The DTI analysis examined more than 125 million urine drug tests performed by Quest across the United States as a service for government and private employers between 1988 and 2012.

Key findings from the analysis:
  • The positivity rate for the combined U.S. workforce declined 74 percent, from 13.6 percent in 1988 to 3.5 percent in 2012.

  • The positivity rate for the federally-mandated safety sensitive workforce declined by 38 percent, from 2.6 percent in 1992 to 1.6 percent in 2012.

  • The positivity rate for the U.S. general workforce declined by 60 percent, from 10.3 percent in 1992 to 4.1 percent in 2012.
Despite the declines in overall drug use, the DTI analysis also found that the positivity rate for certain segments of drugs has increased.
  • Positivity rates for amphetamines, including amphetamine and methamphetamine, has nearly tripled (196 percent higher) in the combined U.S. workforce and, in 2012, were at the highest level since 1997. The positivity rate for amphetamine itself, including prescription medications such as Adderall, has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

  • Positivity rates for prescription opiates, which include the drugs hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and oxymorphone, have also increased steadily over the last decade – more than doubling for hydrocodone and hydromorphone and up 71 percent for oxycodone – a reflection of national prescribing trends.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree to provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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