Doctors are the biggest drug peddlers out there. Is a big….. DUH !
Aug. 7, 2014, 6:01 a.m. EDT
Amphetamines, painkillers show up in more drug tests
By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
Drug use among American workers has fallen dramatically over the past 25 years, at least among the seven major drug categories tested by companies, according to Quest Diagnostics DGX -0.89% , a company that provides clinical laboratory tests. The percentage of the U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has fallen from 13.6% in 1988 and has hovered around 3.5% for the last four years, as measured by 125 different urine drug tests administered to employees over the last few decades. (These figures include people whose jobs are covered by federal laws that require drug tests.) Drugs covered by the tests include 6-am (a form of heroin), amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), opiates and PCP (a hallucinogen).
But the rates of positive testing for amphetamines among workers—including stimulants used to treat attention deficit disorder—rose nearly 180% in the past 10 years, to 0.75% in 2012, the last year for which data is available. Positive results for pain medications have also risen sharply: Positive rates for hydrocodone rose 172% to 1.3%; they surged 433% to 0.89% for hydromorphone; and they increased 72% to 0.96% for oxycodone.
“We’re seeing increasing positivity rates of prescription opiates and stimulants,” says Barry Sample, director of science and technology at Quest. Marijuana remains the most popular drug among workers, the Quest study found, though positive rates fell 38% to 1.6% over the same period.
But testing for drugs is not without controversy, and some companies have caught flack for testing, particularly for marijuana. On Monday, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said during a question-and-answer section on the social network Reddit that the paper’s policy of testing employees for marijuana is “increasingly difficult to defend” given the editorial board’s call for the legalization of marijuana. (That said, marijuana use is still illegal in the state of New York, where the paper is based.) “It proves that reports of the death of irony are much exaggerated,” Keller said in a posting.
In fact, some companies plan to increase drug testing. Some 58% of employers conduct drug and alcohol urine tests, and 62% of organizations with over 4,000 employees do, according to a recent report by HireRight , which screens potential employees; 16% of those companies say they’d “improve” their drug testing procedures in 2014. In Colorado, 20% of employers say they’ve implemented more stringent drug-testing policies for employees since marijuana was legalized in that state this January, according to a separate study carried out in March by the Denver-based Mountain States Employers Council.
Company testing hasn’t kept up with new designer synthetic drugs, some experts say. “Never before have there been so many powerful drugs available so cheaply and so easily,” says David Martin, chairman of Cam International Ventures, a drug education, testing and treatment company. “I believe there is an epidemic of prescription and synthetic drug abuse. There are over 100 kinds of synthetic marijuana and industrial chemicals like bath salts.”
Around 55% of deaths related to drug overdose in the U.S. are related to prescription medicines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But not everyone rates marijuana as less dangerous as other illegal drugs. “All drugs are going to pose a risk for having a safety-sensitive workforce,” Sample says. “They all have an impact on workplace safety, productivity and absenteeism.” Indeed, one-fifth of companies experienced an increase in employee productivity after implementing a drug-testing program, according to a December 2011 paper published in “The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice,” and employers with absenteeism rates of more than 15% reported a drop from 9% to 4% after implementing such a program.