Workforce drug tests reveal rise in cocaine, amphetamine, decline in marijuana use


End-of-year analysis of workforce drug testing at Diagnostic Laboratory Services shows a year-over-year increase in positive test results for cocaine, amphetamines, and synthetic urine.

The laboratory says marijuana use dipped four percent year over year, with a marked decrease in positives from 3.8 percent in 3Q 2017 to 2.5 percent in 4Q.

“I anticipated an increase in marijuana use when the medical marijuana dispensaries opened, but it hasn’t appeared. There was an uptick in the third quarter, from 2.8 percent in the second quarter to 3.8 percent, but it dropped to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter for an overall decrease of 4 percent year over year,” noted Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology at Diagnostic Laboratory Services.

The percentage of positive test results for cocaine rose steadily during the year, starting at 0.2 percent in 1Q and ending at 0.5 percent in 4Q. Year-over-year showed an increase of 67 percent from 0.3 percent in 4Q 2016 to 0.5 percent in 4Q 2017. Amphetamine use also jumped to 57 percent, moving from 0.7 percent in 4Q 2016 to 1.1 percent in 4Q 2017.

Opiate results were unchanged year over year with 0.2 percent in 4Q 2016 and 2017.

The use of synthetic urine, used to mask drug use in tests, was up slightly year over year from 0.9 percent in 4Q 2016 to 1.2 percent in 4Q 2017 for a 33 percent increase.

The state does not currently allow the testing in workplace samples of hydrocodone and oxycodone, which are at the center of the opioid epidemic.

DLS’ quarterly sample size typically includes between 7,000 to 10,000 drug tests.

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