Drug Testing Index Shows Sharp Decline in Employee Drug Use

Illegal drug use among American workers has declined 74% in the 26 years since enactment of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, according to Quest Diagnostics’ Drug Testing Index (DTI). The national laboratory network bases its index on the results of 125 million employee urine tests performed for employers between 1988 and 2012.

Many see the decline as evidence of the effectiveness of the Drug-Free Workplace Act and of private initiatives to reduce drug use in the workplace. The Act conditions receipt of some federal contracts and all federal grants on the recipients' agreement to maintain drug-free workplaces. Researchers nevertheless advise against complacency, noting that positive tests for marijuana, amphetamines and opiates continue to increase significantly.

Drug use negatively affects the workplace through increased accident and illness rates, higher medical costs, employee turnover and workers’ compensation claims, and lower productivity. Furthermore, potential liability for drug-related industrial accidents, product defects and workplace injuries make it imperative that employers take drug-use prevention seriously.