Jim Swart, Director of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) introduced a short presentation at a meeting organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) outlining the 2010 DOT drug and alcohol testing results. Overall, there was a slight increase in the number of positive drug test results. Out of 5,463,833 DOT tests performed in 2010, 84,211 were positive — a 1.54% positive rate. That represents a 0.3% increase over the 2009 levels. While that doesn’t sound like much it does mean there were 1,639 more positives last year than in 2009. Doubly disappointing, the positive rate had been in decline over the last few years; steadily decreasing since 2006.

Broken down, drug by drug, the positive results showed a clear preference for Marijuana over the other drugs:

  • THC (Marijuana): 49.70%
  • Amphetamines: 21.67%
  • Cocaine: 16.17%
  • Opiates: 10.94%
  • PCP: 1.52%

Swart tried to put a positive spin on the increase; positing that it could be to the changes to the drug and alcohol testing program that happened in October of 2010, however, he did admit that it was unclear what had caused the change. Swart also noted that there was an increase in the number of tests over 2009; an indication that the economy is recovering slowly but surely.

In other areas explored during the presentation it was much more clear what effect the new testing rules were having. Swart compared Quarter 3 of 2010 to Quarter 4 to highlight the effect on Cocaine and Heroin testing. In Q3 there were 3,396 Cocaine positives compared to 4,374 in Q4. Similarly with Heroin (identified as 6-AM in most DOT literature), there was a definite up-tick. In Q3 there were 126 positives; in Q4 it had increased to 172.

Ecstasy (MDMA and its associate compounds MDA and MDEA) had a less dramatic effect on the Amphetamines category. Of the 5,638 positive Amphetamine results only 75 were due to Ecstasy. The Amphetamine positive rate continued to be higher than the Cocaine positive rate a trend that has been followed for the past four years.

The level of tampered specimens remained the same.