Research/studies Statistics Drugs

Workers’ drug use down, but prescription drug abuse up: report


Madison, NJ – Drug use among U.S. workers has declined substantially since the Drug-Free Workplace Act was signed into law 25 years ago, but use of certain drugs is on the rise, according to Quest Diagnostics, a provider of drug-testing services.

Overall positive results from workplace drug testing have fallen 74 percent since 1988, said Barry Sample, director of science and technology at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. However, a Quest analysis indicates amphetamines use has nearly tripled and prescription opiate use also is on the rise.

“Opiates are being increasingly prescribed and misused,” Sample said during a Nov. 18 webinar. Specifically, oxycodone has increased 71 percent in the past decade, and according to a Quest report released in April, a majority of patients misuse their prescription medications.

In response to questions during the webinar about what employers should do in states in which recreational marijuana use is legal, Sample said employers still have the right to maintain a safe and productive workplace, and that includes drug testing in those states and taking action based on the results of those tests.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires employers to agree to provide a drug-free workplace before receiving a federal contract or grant money.