Does Workplace Drug Testing Work?

Studies suggest that drug abuse, which also includes alcohol, cost America about $276 billion/year in costs relating to lost work productivity and increased healthcare expenses. With recent changes in marijuana laws and increased use of other illicit drugs, companies are questioning the value of drug testing. Many agree that for safety-sensitive positions, like truck drivers, drug testing still provides plenty of value; but is substance abuse testing still valuable for employers? Please read the attached blog post from Quest Diagnostics to learn more about the latest metrics regarding drugs in the workplace.

Does Workplace Drug Testing Work?

by BOB McCORMICK on APRIL 15, 2016 

As marijuana becomes more widely accepted, some are questioning if workplace drug testing for marijuana and otherillicit drugs is appropriate or even necessary. Some argue that the so-called “war on drugs” is over and, therefore, drug testing provides no value. Yet, the reality is that there is a wealth of empirical research conducted by government and independent organizations that shows that workplace drug use puts all of us at risk – and that workplace drug testing can help to foster healthier, safer, drug-free work environments.

We reviewed published research and articles to help to highlight some key points such as how people under the influence of drugs perform their job duties, if drug use in our society is increasing, the effectiveness of workplace drug testing and whether screening discourages use.

Safety-Sensitive Workers Should Not Use Drugs
Drug use unfavorably affects driving and other safety-sensitive job functions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continues to conduct research regarding the issue of impairment and safety. According to Cannabis Effects on Driving Skills, study authors provide data about the negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving, poor reaction times and decreased attention to the road as well as a heightened risk of involvement in an accident. Use of alcohol with marijuana made drivers more impaired, causing even more lane weaving. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 50 percent of all on-the-job accidents and up to 40 percent of employee theft is related to substance abuse.

Drug Use is Increasing
Drug use and abuse is on the rise. Data from the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ report showed that the positivity rate in the general U.S. workforce increased overall by 9.3 percent, to 4.7 percent in 2014, which is driven by an upsurge in cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine use. Marijuana positivity in the general U.S. workforce increased 14.3 percent (2.4% in 2014 vs. 2.1% in 2013). In addition, marijuana positivity increased 20 percent in Colorado and 23 percent in Washington – both states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Also consider the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regarding drug use rates in the U.S. among people aged 12 or older:

  • Approximately 27 million Americans were current illicit drug users in 2014 (up from 23.9 million in 2013), representing 10.2 percent of the population.
  • Illicit drug use continues to be propelled primarily by marijuana use with 22.2 million current marijuana users.
  • Eight (8.4) percent of people were current marijuana users in 2014 – up from the percentages in 2002 to 2013.

Drug Users Try to Avoid Drug Testing
Research demonstrates that workplace drug testing helps to deter employees from using drugs on the job and candidates from applying for jobs at companies that drug test. Consider these facts:

  • A 1999 federal government study of current drug users who were employed found that 40 percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted random drug testing. Thirty percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment drug testing.
  • In a 1990 survey of U.S. Navy personnel by Paul Mulloy in the Drug-Free Workplace Report, 83 percent indicated that drug testing was the number one deterrent to drug use and 27 percent said they would resume using drugs if the Navy discontinued its drug testing program.
  • Employers who drug test have seen their drug test positivity rates decline over time. “The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index provides the best evidence to date that the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the public and private initiatives it helped to spur have led to steep declines in drug use among much of the American workforce,” said Laura Shelton, Executive Director, Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA).

For the anti-drug testing voices, it’s critical to understand that a decrease in drug test positivity rates does not mean that drug testing doesn’t work or isn’t needed. Actually, it’s quite the opposite, in that drug testing likely helped to drive down drug test positivity rates. Furthermore, the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index 25th anniversary report measured an unprecedented 125+ million workplace urine drug tests performed since 1988. Insights from the report showed that although drug use among American workers has declined 74 percent during the past quarter century, the rate of positive test results for certain drugs continue to climb.

The bottom line is that drug testing does work. And, in order to reap the benefits that drug testing helps to provide, employers must remain vigilant in their testing programs to keep their workforces drug-free.

To view the blog post via Quest Diagnostics, please click here.

/ Print
Posted by Sandra Shinn in General


Be the first to comment
0 Pending Comments
 Keep me updated of follow-up comments!
Most Recent

By Sandra Shinn
September 21, 2017 Category • General

Employers: Have you heard about the Ohio Houses House Bill 187? Its proposal is to protect the privacy of employment applicants; however, it could also make the hiring just a little bit trickier you. House Bill 187: According to 2017 BARNES THORNBURG LLP, House Bill 187 provides that no employer may request an applicants Social Security Number, date of birth, or drivers license number before making an offer of employment. The Problem: You might already see why this new bill could be frustrating for employers. These are the key pieces of information employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) use to check criminal records, driving history, credit history, previous employment, and more. The bill does state that an employer may obtain information for these background screening reasons, but this is unrealistic because it forbids employers from providing this information to third parties, like us. If House Bill 187 becomes law, employers will undoubtedly have to begin

By Sandra Shinn
September 06, 2017 Category • General

In this weeks blog, Pre-Check is sharing employment updates from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). The DHS focuses largely on federal preparations to deal with terrorism while trying to manage other duties, including border security, customs, and emergency management. The SSA is the government agency that administers the social insurance programs of the United States. They cover a wide range of social security services, like disability, retirement, and survivors benefits. The updates below come from the Best Practices Committee and will impact employers and their end-user clients. SSA has a revised Form: Form: An updated Consent Based SSN Verification Form SSA-89 (Rev 04-2017) from the SSA was released on 6/26/17. You have until year end to make the transition to the new document. What does this mean? CBSV is the superlative personal identifier validation methodology as it matches

By Sandra Shin
August 22, 2017 Category • General

Why Run an International Background Check? Many times, employers and hiring managers find themselves with job candidates who have lived abroad, or perhaps they may even have satellite locations in other countries. In these cases, international background checks are necessary for pre-employment screening. And as international job candidates become more and more common, international background checks become more important. Especially as criminals continue to cross international borders. An international background check will allow an employer to make a more informed hiring decision. Using a CRA Choosing a credible Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) is always an important factor in your typical background screening process, but it can be even more crucial when running an international background check. This is because international background screening is much more complex; CRAs must be aware of each countrys own laws and process governing what information can be legally obtained, how it can