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As Drug Use Accelerates, Failed Drug Tests Hit 12-Year High

By June 22, 2017December 16th, 2022Safety

Failed Drug TestAnyone who listens to or reads the news likely knows about the drug epidemic sweeping many states, including Georgia. In the workplace, prescription pain medication has been especially problematic. Close to 8 million pain medication prescriptions are issued in Georgia every year.

Despite these events, many companies still do not drug test—or do not test effectively. Marathon believes that organizations simply cannot afford to underestimate the importance of drug testing, any longer. If you don’t think this advice applies to your firm, we have some important news to share.

Some companies don’t drug test because decision makers believe they are “good judges of character,” or the jobs for which they hire aren’t filled by “typical” drug users. Others believe they can recognize a drug user by looking at him or her. The unfortunate reality is that none of these assumptions are accurate. Consider the facts:

  • Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, recently announced that U.S. employees are failing drug tests at a rate higher than any time since 2004. Highlights of the report include:
    • The percentage of employees testing positive for drugs (4.2 percent) is within 0.3 percentage points of the all-time high (4.5 percent)—a 5 percent increase over the prior year.
    • The analysis found increased rates of positive tests across all drug test specimen types and all testing populations.
  • The United Nations (U.N.) has uncovered some startling statistics, as detailed in its World Drug Report.
    • 70 percent of drug users are employed.
    • Higher socioeconomic groups have a greater likelihood of drug use than lower socioeconomic groups.
    • The percentage of workers with opiate additions is greatest in high income brackets.
    • The evidence collected to date points to an increase in cannabis use in areas where referendums have led to the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

These statistics underscore the need for all employers to re-evaluate their drug and alcohol policies and procedures. Drug and alcohol use not only affects productivity; it also reduces workplace safety and puts both personnel and the company at risk.

Marathon recommends that drug and alcohol screening be conducted on all personnel, at all levels of the organization, with no exceptions. Selective screening is not only an unsound practice; it is potentially discriminatory. Furthermore, drug policies should clearly outline company rules and the penalties for infractions, and the entire workforce should be educated through a drug awareness program. Policies should also elucidate the workplace circumstances that merit drug testing, such as pre-hire evaluation, accident response and reasonable suspicion.

As Quest Diagnostics Senior Director of Science and Technology Barry Sample, Ph.D., noted in a press statement, “Employers committed to creating a safe, drug-free work environment should be alert to the potential for drug use among their workforce.”

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