Illegal use of drugs among American workers has dropped, study says

Illegal use of drugs among American workers has dropped sharply in the last 25 years, according to a new study.

The percentage of the U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs such as cocaine and marijuana dropped to 3.5% last year, from 13.6% in 1988, according to the analysis from medical testing company Quest Diagnostics.

Despite a decline in overall illegal drug use, use of certain drugs has surged since 1988, the study said. Amphetamine use, for example, has nearly tripled, it said, and use of prescription opiates, including drugs such as hydrocodone and hydromorphone, has more than doubled in the last decade.

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The study said the patterns in the workplace mirror larger developments concerning illegal drug use in the United States.

"For instance, a decline in drug positives for methamphetamine observed in 2005 roughly coincided with federal and state efforts to crack down on so-called 'meth labs' and over-the-counter medicines," the study said.

Quest's study analyzed more than 125 million urine drug tests in its laboratories across the country. Samples came from employees in private companies and those in jobs subject to federal safety regulations, including truck drivers and nuclear power plant workers.


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