According to a new study published by Quest Diagnostics today, positive workplace drug test results have been increasing steadily every year since 2011, and made up 4% of all workplace drug test results in 2015. The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index — an annual survey of workplace drug test results — examined nearly 11 million drug test results in 2015. Some of the most significant findings of the survey include:

  • The rate of amphetamine, marijuana and heroin detection has increased every year for the past five years.
  • 45% of all U.S. workers who tested positive in 2015 showed evidence of marijuana use.
  • Positive test results for heroin increased 146% over the last four years, while positive test results for oxycodone decreased slightly.
  • Amphetamine positivity increased 44% since 2011.
  • Marijuana positivity increased 26% since 2011.
  • Post-accident positivity rates have increased 30% since 2011.
  • In oral fluid drug testing, the overall positivity rate increased 47% since 2011, driven primarily by large increases in positive marijuana results.
  • 9% of job applicants could not pass a pre-employment hair drug test in 2015.

Employers should take note of these statistics and ensure that their drug and alcohol testing policies address these issues adequately. Among other things, employers should ensure that their drug testing procedures include testing for the presence of 6-acetylmorphine to detect heroin. Additionally, the increase in positive post-accident test results should concern employers and should prompt a review of post-accident drug and alcohol testing practices. Finally, although the public continues to embrace medical marijuana and many states are moving to legalize marijuana use recreationally, this survey shows that marijuana use is increasing and will continue to be a problem in the workplace.