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Report: Drug Use Hit 16-Year High in 2019
Scott Mogensen
3 mins read
Quest Diagnostics published the results of their annual drug testing analysis last month. In 2019, workplace positivity rates hit a 16 year high – with the highest increases in positive drug tests for marijuana. The Midwest also saw significant increases in cocaine and methamphetamine use.

With the vast majority of states legalizing the use of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes, it wasn’t surprising that marijuana saw the largest increase in 2019. But while the double-digit increase in marijuana positivity rates between 2018 and 2019 reflects the nation’s changing views on the drug, it should raise a red flag for employers – especially those of safety-sensitive employees who are still prohibited from using marijuana (even when prescribed by a physician).

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Also of note, in the report, is the decrease in positivity rates from opioid use in 2019. While this certainly looks promising, there are concerns that those positivity rates will increase in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic which has led to social isolation and stress – as well as made it more challenging for recovering opiate addicts to get the treatment and support they need to prevent a relapse. This is supported by recent research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which shows an increase in opioid fatalities in at least 30 states since the pandemic started earlier this year.

“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, 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.”

What This Means for You

There have been numerous studies about the impacts of drug use in the workplace – which can impact everything from an employee’s retention, to their safety and productivity. With this in mind, employers should take whatever steps necessary to maintain a drug-free workplace.

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If you hire safety sensitive employers, they must be enrolled in a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program for the duration of their employment. For non-DOT employees, you should be conducting pre-employment drug tests at a minimum. And ideally? You have them all enrolled in a drug-free workplace program as well.

To learn more about how Foley can help you protect the safety of your workforce by setting up a comprehensive and fully compliant drug and alcohol testing program, please click here.

 
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