The number of American workers testing positive on drug screens has jumped for the first time in more than a decade. New Jersey based Quest Diagnostics recently released a Drug Testing Index that looked at 8.5 million urine, oral and hair test results. The numbers are eye opening.
Last year, the report revealed that 3.7 percent of the country’s general workforce tested positive for some sort of drug use. In 2014 the numbers jumped dramatically to 5.7 percent.
You are probably thinking that much of this increase can be attributed to the decriminalization of marijuana in several states, and you are right. Nationally, the positivity rate for pot jumped 6.2 percent, but skyrocketed 20 percent in Colorado and 23 percent in Washington.
The other top concern for employers is the increase in the use of amphetamines, or “Meth.” The report indicates that more people are testing positive than ever before.
A factory owner in Minneapolis sees it every day and says it is clearly affecting his business. Erick Ajax, owner of metal stamping company E.J. Ajax, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that in 2007 he lost 10 percent of his workforce to methamphetamine use. He started drug testing and mainly found positive results for alcohol, marijuana or cocaine. But in the last five years, he says meth, painkillers and heroin are much more common. Today, Ajax says a full 20 percent of his candidates flunk their drug test.
The only class of drug that seems to have a decrease in positive testing rates is prescription opiates such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Positive test results for these pain killers dropped 8.3 percent. Even with that bit of improvement, the US Department of Health and Human Services found that drug abuse costs American businesses $120 billion every year.
Now is a good time for all companies, large and small, to review their drug screening programs to make sure they are keeping up with these issues. Laws are constantly changing with regard to marijuana. A strong, clearly worded, well communicated drug policy is your best tool when it comes to navigating today’s challenges.
Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational health screening and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security. EBI is the only NAPBS Accredited background screening company in the world to hold both an ISO 27001:2005 certification for information security and an ISO 9001:2008 certification for Quality Management.
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