Last year’s level, which represented a slight uptick from the 4.4% level in 2018, was also higher than the 30-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.
Marijuana topped the list as the most commonly detected illicit substances in the general workforce, with a positivity testing of 3.1%, up from 2.8% one year earlier. Methamphetamine positivity in the general workforce inched up from 0.18% in 2018 to 0.19% in 2019, while drug test positivity for opiates – primarily codeine and/or morphine – dropped from 0.31% in 2018 to 0.25% in 2019. Heroin-related positivity tests in the general workforce dipped from 0.03% in 2018 to 0.02% in 2019.
The Quest Diagnostics findings also noted U.S drug deaths were up by 5% last year, primarily due to methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, following a decline in 2018. During the first few months of 2020, drug deaths increased by roughly 13% versus the same period one year earlier, which the Quest Diagnostic study partly attributed to social isolation and other disruptions caused by Covid-19
“There is no question that before Covid-19, rates of workplace drug positivity were trending in the wrong direction, based on our Quest Diagnostics data. The enormous strain caused by COVID-19 may prove to be an accelerant on this disturbing trend,” said Dr. Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics. “Organizations will need to consider the impact of Covid-19 not only on workplace safety but also as a health concern for their employees for some time to come.”