By Geoffrey Smith
May 17, 2017

Good morning.

Rather than follow the herd and lead with stories of Donald Trump and James Comey (you can find the distilled essence below), I thought it would be more useful to draw attention to a survey released today by Quest Diagnostics, which shows that drug use among the U.S. workforce has risen to its highest in 12 years.

“This year’s findings are remarkable because they show increased rates of drug positivity for the most common illicit drugs across virtually all drug test specimen types and in all testing populations,” said Barry Sample, PhD, senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. The only crumb of comfort in the report is that positivity rates for heroin, the most destructive opioid, is plateauing.

A part of the rise in positivity rates is clearly due to the legalization of marijuana. In Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational use of pot, the results of urine tests on employees suggest a rise of over 10% in use of the drug by employees, more than twice the national average. The growing number of states to follow them down that path can surely expect a similar trend in the future.

More worrying, arguably, is a clear and unbroken rising trend in cocaine and methamphetamine use. Positivity rates for cocaine rose 8% last year; Meth rates have risen 64% over the last four years.

Quest very rightly points out that there is no substitute for vigilance among employers. Accident risks rise and performance suffers when people come to work with drugs still in their system (alcohol being the most obvious and the most common example). But there is more to vigilance than buying the sort of testing services with which Quest makes its living. Our own life experience tells us that workplace environments often encourage drug use, whether by placing unreasonable burdens on staff, or by leaving them under-stimulated.

And without downplaying the importance of individual responsibility, every business can do something to mitigate that.

News below.

Geoffrey Smith


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