Findings from the 2024 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™

Findings from the 2024 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™

As the workplace evolves, so do the challenges that organizations face in maintaining a safe and productive environment.

A Surge in Drug Test Tampering

According to Quest Diagnostics' latest report, the percentage of employees in the general U.S. workforce showing signs of tampered drug tests increased dramatically in 2023. Instances of substituted urine specimens surged by over 600%, while invalid urine specimens rose by 45.2%. These unprecedented numbers indicate a significant increase in efforts to circumvent drug testing protocols.

Suhash Harwani, Ph.D., Senior Director of Science for Workforce Health Solutions at Quest Diagnostics, noted, "The increased rate of both substituted and invalid specimens indicates that some American workers are going to great lengths to attempt to subvert the drug testing process." This trend underscores a growing issue where the normalization of drug use may be influencing employees to believe they can bypass drug tests without considering the consequences for workplace safety.

Historic Highs in Drug Positivity Rates

The overall drug positivity rate in the general U.S. workforce (those who do not work federally mandated, safety-sensitive positions) remained steady at 5.7% in 2023, maintaining historically high levels. The combined U.S. workforce (general workforce + federal mandated, safety-sensitive positions) also showed a persistent drug positivity rate of 4.6%, the highest in over two decades. Post-accident marijuana positivity has climbed sharply, with an increase of 114.3% between 2015 and 2023.

Marijuana Use and Legalization

Marijuana positivity tests continued to increase, particularly in states where recreational use is legal. In the general workforce, marijuana positivity increased by 4.7% in 2023, reaching a new peak. Over the past five years, this rate has risen by 45.2%. Despite the decrease in marijuana positivity among federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers, the data suggests that broader legalization might be contributing to increased usage and associated workplace risks.

Rising Drug Use in Office-Based Industries

Interestingly, the Quest Diagnostics report also highlights a rise in drug positivity rates within traditionally office-based industries. Real estate, lending, professional services, and education sectors all saw significant increases in drug positivity. This trend may reflect the broader impacts of the pandemic, such as increased stress and isolation from work-from-home policies, potentially leading to higher drug use.

Sam Sphar, Vice President and General Manager of Workforce Health Solutions at Quest Diagnostics, pointed out the importance of mental health support and drug education programs in these sectors: "The results underscore the growing need for mental health support and drug education programs to ensure employees are safe and productive, whether working at home or in the office."

The Need for Comprehensive Drug Testing Programs

The findings from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index highlight the critical importance of effective drug testing programs. Such programs not only help maintain a safer work environment but also act as a deterrent against drug use. Dr. Harwani noted that the mere expectation of drug testing can dissuade individuals from using drugs or applying for positions where testing is standard practice.

In conclusion, as drug use continues to evolve and adapt to societal changes, organizations must remain vigilant. Implementing robust drug testing and support programs is essential to ensure a safe, healthy, and productive workplace.

Source: Workforce drug test cheating surged in 2023, finds Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index analysis of nearly 10 million drug tests. (2024, May 15). Quest Diagnostics Newsroom.,-Finds-Quest-Diagnostics-Drug-Testing-Index-Analysis-of-Nearly-10-Million-Drug-Tests