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Drug Test Positivity at a 16 year high

This month, Quest Diagnostics reported drug use was at a 16 year high across the U.S. Frankly, we’re not surprised. Employers are left with two questions: why, and how do I combat this trend in my workplace?

In July, we reported that positive drug tests were up due to COVID-19, likely accelerated by the high unemployment, record alcohol sales, and extended stay-at-home orders throughout the country. This was based on our experience in the office, but also on trends we were seeing across the country, including drivers refusing drug tests and a tendency for some businesses (such as restaurants and those in the hospitality industry)not to test for drug use at all. However, these trends did not begin in March. In 2019, Quest also reported that drug positivity had increased in more than 1/3 of the workforce sectors in the U.S.

The rapid increase of marijuana use by workers since legalization efforts began, combined with the opioid epidemic that has plagued the U.S. for the past two decades, has accelerated the growth of drugs in the workplace. In 2019, drug deaths rose 5 percent, followed by a 13 percent increase in drug deaths at the beginning of 2020. You can see the drug positivity rate of your area compared to the national average here.

Employer’s reaction to increased drug use in the workplace

 

Since we have been in the field for the past month more than ever, distributing COVID-19 tests, we have seen people come into work in all states—too drunk to hardly stand, smelling of weed, hands shaking form a potential drug issue—and fearlessly walking into the worksite to operate heavy machinery. The best remedy for this is on-site testing. The reason is this—while drug use has been on the rise, the number of adulterated drug tests have also been on the rise. Some employees we’ve seen have gone so far as to bring synthetic urine in their vehicles and workbags daily to the office.

The best reaction is prevention. As you are planning your budget for 2021, make space for onsite drug testing in your workplace.

Image courtesy of Quest Diagnostics

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