Did you know that according to Quest Diagnostics, the number of employee drug test results showing up positive for drug abuse are at the highest they’ve been in twelve years? This reporting (which was were based on more than 10 million workforce drug tests) shows that cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana have all shown increases in use across every testing category, and within nearly every specimen type.
This increase in positive drug tests is putting a lot of pressure on companies that want clean workers—and it’s actually putting pressure on the economy as a whole.
So, What’s Causing The Increase?
It’s difficult to be sure of, but many believe it has something to do with the legalized sale of marijuana. Others are convinced that it’s the opioid epidemic, which they believe is part of declining participation in the workforce.
What About Legalized Marijuana?
Marijuana has always been the most common substance that employees test positive for, and use has increased nationally. On the state level, there have also been significant changes. In states where marijuana has been legalized, companies and employees are now faced with the question of how to handle the situation if a worker tests positive for it.
Technically, an employee can still get fired if their drug test comes back positive for marijuana. The police can’t arrest that employee, but their boss can get rid of them. The situation will vary from company to company and manager to manager, but for the most part, supervisors do not approve of marijuana use, and would probably fire an employee for using it.
The Troubling Truth About Cocaine
According to Quest Diagnostics’ research, more than one in 25 employees fail their drug tests, with cocaine in a troubling upswing—not just in regular jobs, but also in jobs with federally-mandated drug testing. Drug testing with positive results for cocaine increased 12% in 2016, making it reach a seven-year high.
The amount of positive cocaine tests in post-accident drug testing was more than twice that of pre-employment drug testing, and was also higher than the rate in random drug testing.
Methamphetamines and Adderall also continue to increase their upward trend of widespread usage.
The Good News…
Quest Diagnostics’ report also stated that positive heroin tests finally slowed down after four years of growth, and hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone continue to decline.
A Safe Work Environment
This alarming research should serve as a good reminder to employers of the extreme value of drug testing—not only pre-employment, but also random drug testing. Employers should go over their written workplace drug policies with partners and staff members and reiterate that even where marijuana use is legal, employers have the right to ensure a safe work environment. This could mean an employee gets let go because of a positive drug test.
Safety is the main goal which allows companies to drug test their workers. Passing on an applicant who fails a pre-employment drug test is probably the smartest idea, regardless of the substance.