Did you know that urine drug testing positivity among the combined US workforce increased 5% from just last year alone? This is the highest annual positivity rate since 2004. More specifically, marijuana positivity rates have increased by 75% in the US workforce in oral fluid testing.

With rampant drug abuse on the rise, especially in the workforce, Quest Diagnostics feels it is important to shed light on the epidemic. They have released their detailed white paper, An Exploration of Addiction, so we can all get a better understanding of substance-abuse disorders. Below, we have summarized the highlighting points of the white paper:


The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Recreational Use

Substance abuse occurs when the use of drugs and/or alcohol is recurrent and causes clinically and functionally significant impairment – Like health issues and disabilities. Conversely, those who use drugs recreationally (every once in a while) are not considered addicted and do not suffer from long-term effects like the ones previously stated.


Teenage Drug Use

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that drug abuses during the teenage years are likely to focus on tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, and prescriptions drugs. Since the frontal cortex of the brain is not fully developed during these years, societal pressure that is experienced may create a “perfect storm” for drug abuse. Some of the other reasons why teens may explore drug use include having easy access, boredom, rebellion, lack of confidence, and misinformation.


Young Adult Drug Use

Studies have shown that drinking in college has become a core part of young adults’ lives. However, 33% of full-time college students aged 18-22 have engaged in binge drinking in the past month, with 1 in 5 using an illicit drug during the same time period. Of all age demographics, drug use is highest among those in their late teens and twenties; 21% of reported drug abuse this month is comprised of this age bracket. This means that people in this age group are at higher risk of developing a substance abuse disorder as they enter the next stage of their lives.


Adult Drug Use

Adults typically engage in drug use due to three major identified reasons: stress, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Adults can develop a substance abuse order in an attempt to manage stress or trauma that they may be dealing with. Adults who become addicted to alcohol are twice as likely to also be addicted to heroin, while those who are addicted to marijuana are three times as likely, and those addicted to cocaine are 15 times as likely.


If you or someone you know is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol, seek a referral from your primary care physician or locate an addiction specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine.


You can download your own, full copy of Quest Diagnostics’ white paper here.