Workforce Drug Trends from 2022 – What We Learned and How to Respond

by | Jun 21, 2023 | News, Safex News, Uncategorized

Workforce Drug Trends from 2022 – What We Learned and How to Respond 

(June 2023) Each year we look forward to seeing the drug testing trends – even if it means putting numbers behind what we’ve already been experiencing. Quest Diagnostics recently released their annual , Drug Testing Index, a comprehensive analysis of workforce drug use trends. They’ve offered insights based on the data collected from over nine million general industry and federally mandated urine drug tests across the United States. We’re offering a few highlights for you in the points below.

With the growing concern for total worker health, employers may want to consider this data a warning sign and act while they’re still able to prevent or reduce issues.

What We Learned

Data from general U.S. workforce (federal data excluded)

  • Employees may be returning to marijuana use after negative pre-employment test.

Employees have more post-accident tests positive for marijuana compared to pre-employment drug test, which could suggest employees are returning to use after being hired/submitting a negative pre-employment test.

Note: The post-accident tests positive for marijuana increased to its highest level in 25 years in 2022 – up over 200% since 2012. Not surprising, there are higher numbers of positive marijuana tests in states when the substance is legal (either for adult or medical use) and below average in states with no legalization.

  • Random testing impacts post-accident positive testing rates.

Organizations who have a random testing program have a consistently lower (and more stable) positive post-accident test rate. The potential of being randomly tested has shown to impact an employee’s likelihood of using (and is a great excuse not to use in social situations) but following through on that testing may also decrease the chances of an accident related to substance use.

  • 9 of the 15 industries had increases in overall positivity rates.

Using your NAICS code, see how your industry compares to others.

General Workforce – Urine Drug Test Positivity Rates

  • Having a drug-free workplace program makes a big difference in employee use.

Individuals who work for an organization with a drug testing program self-reported considerably less illicit drug use in the last month compared to those who work for an organization without a testing program. The gap between the two groups continues to grow as seen by comparing the blue and purple bars in this graph.

Illicit drug use increases chart

How to Respond

Employees have a right to work in a safe environment, which includes making sure substance-using employees aren’t posing a danger to those who are not using.

Educate and train your staff.

    • Educate all staff around substances and their risks to the workplace (adults aren’t getting this information anywhere else)
    • Train supervisors to recognize and respond to issues on the job so they can prevent them from become bigger problems or accidents

Revisit your drug testing panel and applications.

    • Make sure you’re still testing for marijuana on all testing applications.
    • Consider adding random testing both as a deterrent by sheer existence and to provide intervention before an accident occurs.

Get rid of the problem, not the person.

    • Offer assistance options so employees can get help before a problem (substance use, relationship or financial issues, etc.) shows up on the job. This could range from community resources to a company-sponsored Employee Assistance Program.

Employers have a responsibility to prevent issues where possible and respond to issues as they arise. Not sure if these really apply to you or need to talk more about responding? Give our Drug-Free Workplace Training Consultants a call – 614.890.0800, ext. 7.

Remember: Organizations in Ohio may be eligible to participate in the BWC’s Drug-Free Safety Program, which offers accountability in running an effective drug-free workplace program, among other things. Additionally, costs for implementing a drug-free workplace program may be reimbursable through Ohio BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Grant. See our DFSP Help Zone for links and guides.

Safex offers drug-free workplace education and training, and partners with other reputable organizations for policy development, drug-testing, and employee assistance.