Drug use among American workers declined 74% over past 25 years, finds unprecedented analysis of more than 125 million workplace urine drug tests

Drug use among American workers declined dramatically over the past 25 years, although the rate of positive test results for certain drugs, including amphetamine and opiates, continues to climb, according to a landmark analysis of workplace drug test results released by Quest Diagnostics.

The DTI analysis examined more than 125 million urine drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics forensic toxicology laboratories across the United States as a service for government and private employers between 1988 and 2012. The analysis examined the annual positivity rate for employees in positions subject to certain federal safety regulations, such as truck drivers, train operators, airline and nuclear power plant workers (federally mandated safety-sensitive workers); workers primarily from private companies (U.S. general workforce); and the results of both groups together (combined U.S. workforce). The index reports the percentage of results that tested positive for the presence of a drug or its metabolite, an adulterant or that involved a specimen that was deemed to be unacceptable for testing (“positivity”). The company’s testing services identify approximately 20 commonly abused drugs, including marijuana, opiates and cocaine.

  • The positivity rate for the combined US workforce declined 74% from 13.6% in 1988 to 3.5% in 2012
  • The positivity rate for the federally-mandated safety sensitive workforce declined by 38%, from 2.6% in 1992 to 1.6% in 2012
  • The positivity rate for the US general workforce declined by 60%, from 10.3% in 1992 to 4.1% in 2012
  • The positivity rate for amphetamines, including amphetameine and methamphetamine, has nearly tripled (196% hgher) in the combined US workforce and, in 2012, were at the highest level since 1997. The positivity rate for amphetamine itself, including prescription medications such as Adderall®, more than doubled in the last 10 years
  • The positivity rate for prescription opiates, which include the drugs hyrdocodone, hydromorphone, ocycodone and oxymorphone, have also increased steadily over the last decade - more than doubling for hyrdocodone and hydromorephone and up 71% for oxycodone
About the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index
The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index is published as a public service for government, media and industry and is considered a benchmark for national trends. DTI reports examines positivity rates for workplace drugs tested by the company on behalf of employers among three major testing populations: federally mandated safety-sensitive workers; the general workforce; and the combined U.S. workforce.