Quest Diagnostic recently reported a dramatic three-decade drop in positive drug test results from American workers—from 13.6% in 1988 to 3.7% in 2013 for urinalysis tests! Caution is advised, however, to anyone who feels we are winning the war on drugs and we can let down our guard. What this really indicates is that workplace-based drug testing is highly effective in keeping the dangers of drug abuse in our businesses to a minimum. Regular and ongoing testing programs are an essential part of any conscientious workplace safety program.

And the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) observes that a closer look at the facts is warranted to reveal the real truth. 2013 also saw the first increase in positive drug results in the past 10 years. While we’re still on a good track for success, some drug use has gone up alarmingly in recent years.

The legalization of recreational marijuana has contributed to some recent spikes. Overall, states are reporting a steady 5% rise in positive test rates for pot, while states like Washington and Colorado are showing over 20% in increases. The real alarm bells, though, are being set off by prescription drug abuse. Opiates like oxycodone are triggering a doubling in positive tests in the last decade, while amphetamine positives have tripled since 1997.

While no consistent federal policy has created regulations promoting drug testing in private companies, employers are discovering the benefits of testing programs on their own. In addition to increases in productivity and workplace safety, testing is made more attractive for many employers through discounts on workers’ comp premiums when testing is in place. And employers discover that high-value employees are attracted to work environments that are safer.

Private companies don’t often invite government interference in their business affairs. But many business owners are finding themselves wishing the federal government would generate some consistent guidelines regarding which tests are most effective and which drugs should be tested for. As it is, employers have to figure that out for themselves. Many are looking beyond the basic five panel test, recognizing that more prescription drugs and designer drugs are making inroads into the workplace. Having industry-wide research-based standards in place would help businesses greatly in making decisions about their programs. This is one of the reasons DrugTestsInBulk,com offers the widest selection and highest quality of drug test kits and why we maintain our DTIB Blog to assist business and testing professionals in staying up-to-date and state-of-the-art.

Next on Drug Testing in the Workplace: the most important steps to take before and after a workplace testing program is implemented.