What New in Drug Testing, August 2020?

The annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ just published in August of 2020; finds workforce drug testing positivity climbed to its highest rate in 16 years.  More Americans are using drugs and more American workers are testing positive.  About 4.5 out of every 100 urine drug tests submitted to Quest Diagnostics get reported out as positive.  The Midwest is experiencing dramatic increases in positive tests for cocaine and methamphetamine.

It was previously reported that in a time of crisis, substance abuse increases. We should be on the lookout next year for even higher positive rates.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) annually provides the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  The latest report shows that nearly 1 in 5 people aged 12 or older (19.4 percent) used an illicit drug in 2018.  After marijuana, prescription pain reliever misuse was the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States in 2018, with 3.6 percent of the population misusing pain relievers.  Some good news is that the Quest Index for 2019 reported fewer opiate positives then the previous few years.

These alarming statistics remind employers to remain vigilant about all drug misuse in the workplace.  Substance abuse will cost the employer lots of money, more than the cost of drug testing.

The Quest index is also showing increases in oral fluid methamphetamine positive tests using both oral fluid and hair specimens. Marijuana positives are an at an all-time high, employers should be making decisions about policies because of medical and recreational marijuana.  National Drug Screening, Inc offers a great resource for this – Workplace Considerations For Marijuana Use.

Oral Fluid Drug Testing for DOT

Oral fluid drug testing is still not authorized under the DOT drug & alcohol testing program.  Oral fluid testing is a very good specimen to use for detecting very recent use of drugs particularly for post-accident or reasonable suspicion testing.

Employers thinking about oral fluid testing should consider that with this type of drug testing, an employer representative collects the urine specimen and ships it out to the lab.  The in-house oral fluid collection can require less time than urine collection, reducing employee time away from the workplace and, therefore, reducing costs to the employer.

Hair Testing

Still a way off for DOT drug testing, hair drug testing is becoming increasingly popular for non-regulated employers and court-ordered testing.  We see large trucking companies requiring hair drug testing in addition to the required DOT urine drug test.  The 90 day look-back period for a hair drug test gives an indication of the individuals’ lifestyle as it relates to substance abuse.

Instant or Point of Collection (POCT) Drug Testing

Both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics are having success with their instant drug testing options.  When specimens test negative on the instant screen, the results are reported to the employer within 30 minutes.  These tests can be ordered online on a web portal with results coming back to the web portal and optionally via e-mail.  Non-negative results at the point of collection do require the specimen to be sent off to the lab for confirmation testing and then further MRO review and verification.

Up to date information and all the testing options mentioned above are available from National Drug Screening, Inc.

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