Since 1988, drug "positivity" rates have fallen by 72% according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index. The new low of 3.8% in 2006 compares with 13.6% in 1988.
"We are effectively pushing back against illegal drug use," said John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy for the Bush Administration.
In 2004, 33 of every 10,000 people in the general workforce tested positive for methamphetamine. That number stood at 18 in 10,000 in 2006. Of all urine workplace drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics during 2006 for the combined workforce, 3.8% had positive results. In 2005, the number was 4.1%.
Quest credits increased employer vigilance about the impact of workplace drug abuse on liability and the cost of decreased productivity and the possibility that those who abuse drugs may tend to avoid employment at companies that actively conduct drug testing.
A 2005 national survey on drug use and health indicated individuals whose employers do not have a drug testing program reported a nearly 50% higher incidence of illicit drug use in the previous 30 days. As a percentage, that's 10.5% using drugs in companies with no testing vs. 7.1% reporting using drugs in companies that do test.
In the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce, positive rates were 2% in 2006, 2.3% in 2005 and 2004 and 2.5% in 2003 and 2002. In the general workforce, the corresponding years showed rates at or nearly double the rate of the safety-sensitive group. Those years tracked at 4.4% in 2006, 4.5% in 2005, 4.9% in 2004, 5% in 2003 and 4.8% in 2002.
Among the safety-sensitive workforce, which includes transportation workers, the largest category of positive tests was among those tested for cause. Post-accident testing turned up only 2.7% positive drug tests vs. 12.5% among for-cause tests. Random tests showed positive only 1.5% of the time. For comparison, among the general workforce, random tests brought back 5.5% positive results.