More U.S., NY workers, job seekers test positive for drugs

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Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.

Meanwhile, the number of workers who tested positive for marijuana rose by 4%, while positive results for other drugs also rose, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, have experienced particularly large increases in positive test results and now exceed the national average, but they still lag far behind OR, which has the highest rate of positive marijuana tests at 3.9 percent.

For both of these states, the positivity rate for workforce urine drug tests, indicating that someone had consumed an illegal substance, was 6.3%, according to data released Tuesday by clinical laboratory services company Quest Diagnostics DGX, -1.30%.

The positivity rate in urine testing for cocaine increased for the fourth consecutive year in the general USA workforce and for the second consecutive year in the federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. "2016 is the first year since Colorado and Washington approved recreational use that the rates of year-over-year change were sharply higher than the national average", Sample said.

Furthermore, positive results for marijuana have been climbing for three straight years, and in states where recreational use is legal - such as Colorado and Washington - the results are double the national average.

Cocaine positivity went up 12 percent in 2016, hitting a seven-year high among the general workforce, Quest reported.

The index also shows that while much of the public attention is on marijuana and opiate use, it is cocaine that is on the upswing.

It showed that 4.2 percent of drug tests came back positive last year, up from 4 percent the year before and the highest rate since 2004, when it was 4.5 percent. The report was based on an analysis of more than 10 million workforce drug test results.

Driving the increase are positive tests for marijuana, which hit 2 percent a year ago after growing steadily from about 1.6 percent in 2012. Between 2012 and 2016, it climbed 64 percent in the general US workforce and 14 percent among federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

Prescription opiate positivity - including hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodones - declined in urine testing among the general US workforce. Oxycodones, which are among the most popular opioid types, showed consecutive years of declines, dropping 28% from 0.96% in 2012 to 0.69% in 2016.

Amphetamine use continued its year-over-year upward trend, increasing more than 8% in the general US workforce in urine testing.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) examines test results according to three categories of workers: federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers; the general workforce; and the combined USA workforce.

Quest Diagnostics is the largest workforce testing firm in the nation with it headquarters in Madison, New Jersey.

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