New statistics about employee drug use are out, and they show an increase in usage of some drugs. Is it marijuana, cocaine, crack?
It’s none of those. Employee use of prescription opiates jumped 18% from 2008 to 2009 and has increased 40% from 2005 to 2009, according to Quest Diagnostics, Inc.
Also, 2009 post-accident drug tests found opiates up to four times more often than in pre-employment tests.
The Quest results are consistent with a recent report from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The report showed a 111% increase in the estimated number of emergency department visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics from 2004-2008.
Quest notes that both prescribed use and misuse of opiates appear to be on the rise, and that’s something employers with safety-sensitive jobs should be aware of.
Semi-synthetic opiates had higher positive rates. Hydrocodone, the most prescribed generic drug for the past three years, registered a 1.3% positive rate in Quest’s 2009 general U.S. workforce data. Oxycodones showed a 1.0% positive rate and hydromorphone reached 0.82%. Naturally occurring opiates, such as codeine and morphine, had positive rates below 0.5%.