Safety and OSHA News

Top 9 states for methamphetamine use

Last decade, positive drug tests among U.S. workers for methamphetamine had started to drop. That trend may be reversing, with positive rates dramatically higher in some states compared to others.

The new statistics come from Quest Diagnostics’ annual report on U.S. worker drug use, based on more than six million urine tests collected from January-December 2010.

Positives for methamphetamine use in the U.S. general workforce dropped dramatically from 0.18% in 2006 to 0.11% in 2008. However, the rate remained the same in 2009 and 2010 at 0.10%.

Dr. Steven Shoptaw, a researcher who studies therapies for methamphetamine dependence, says, “I’ve worked with patients who, paralyzed by the recession and juggling multiple jobs and family responsibilities, started using methamphetamine for its ‘functional’ stimulant benefit.”

Shoptaw notes that, even when it’s used as a stimulant by people who work more than one job, meth can wreak havoc on their judgment.

“For these sort of people, we now provide economic counseling in the treatment setting, helping people to live their lives in scale, without using methamphetamine,” said Shoptaw.

Meth use seems to be increasing the most in the West and Midwest. Among the 42 states with sufficient data to compare to the national average for positive tests for meth in 2010, those with rates notably above average were:

  1. Hawaii – 410% higher than national average
  2. Arkansas – 280%
  3. Oklahoma – 240%
  4. Nevada – 180%
  5. California – 140%
  6. Wyoming – 130%
  7. Utah – 120%
  8. Arizona – 100%, and
  9. Kansas – 80%.

Several eastern states remain significantly below the national average for meth positives, including New York, Washington DC and Massachusetts.

Quest says rates are also moving higher in the south. Georgia was 20% higher than the national average.

Some other statistics from the Quest report:

  • Positives for cocaine have dropped 65% in the last five years
  • Positives for amphetamines dropped 57% during the same period, and
  • Since Quest started its Drug Testing Index in 1988, overall drug positives have declined steadily in the U.S. workforce.
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