With more relaxed views about marijuana use and the country in the throes of a prescription drug epidemic, it comes as little surprise that more American workers are testing positive for drugs. In fact, the presence of drugs appeared in 3.9 percent of urine tests conducted for employers in 2014, up from 3.7 percent in 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal. After 24 years of decreased positive employer drug tests from 1988 to 2013, last year marked the reversal of the trend.
The Drugs Used
While some of the positive tests can be dismissed with a doctor’s note, the majority of positive tests reflect illicit use, according to Dr. Barry Sample of Quest Diagnostics. Sample attributes the rise in the latest drug testing index to more workers using marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.
The report found that marijuana was present in drug tests more than any other drugs; however other drugs commonly found included:
- Amphetamines, such as Adderall ®
- Oxycodone, such as OxyContin ®
- Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax ®
The Big Picture
Sample believes the increase in positive drugs tests is indicative of a bigger problem, the rise in substance use among the general population, according to the article. Last year, a report conducted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that almost 20 million people said they used marijuana. What’s more, 4.5 million reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons in the past month, as well as:
- 1.5 million reporting cocaine use.
- 595,000 reporting methamphetamine use.
- 289,000 reporting heroin use.
Treatment Over Termination
Employees using drugs in abusive ways should be given the option to enter a substance use disorder treatment program, rather than being terminated outright. Many who are given the option of recovery are able to turn their lives around and return as productive members of the workforce. Termination will most likely only exacerbate the problem of addiction throughout the country.