Study: Drug use by US workers reaches a 12-year high

Dive Brief:

  • More American workers are testing positive for drug use, according to Quest Diagnostic studies. Cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine use is at a 12-year high, the study found.
  • The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ shows that the positive drug-testing rate was 4.2% in 2016, up from the previous year’s rate of 4.0%. The increase is the highest since 2004, when the rate was 4.5%
  • Cocaine use continues to rise, says Quest. The positive drug-testing rate for cocaine rose for the fourth consecutive year.

Dive Insight:

The rise in positive testing is a grave challenge for workplaces, particularly those with strict anti-drug policies that include the more socially accepted marijuana. It's especially challenging for workplaces that are currently struggling to contain growing issues with opioid addiction.

The current opioid epidemic has killed more Americans in recent years than either car accidents, gun violence or H.I.V.  

Drug abuse isn't good for business operations either. One estimate pins the value of productivity lost to opioids at over $16 billion, and that's not even mentioning the associated healthcare costs. Painkillers have proven to be such a problem for employers that some have formulated entire training programs educating employees about the pitfalls of drugs like oxycontin.

On the other hand, the rise of cocaine use among workers points to a different problem perhaps driven by steep demands on workplace productivity.

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Filed Under: HR Management Legal
Top image credit: Flickr; Michael Chen