Methamphetamine Use Among U.S. Workers, Job Applicants Declining

The percentage of positive tests for methamphetamine among U.S. job applicants and workers in the general U.S. workforce dropped more than 22 percent between 2006 and 2007.

These findings, from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index(R), reflect the reversal of an upward trend in use of the drug by more than 73 percent from 2002 to 2004. Quest Diagnostics Incorporated also reported that positive tests for cocaine in the general U.S. workforce were down 19 percent between 2006 and 2007 and that overall drug use, among workers subject to drug testing, remains at an all-time low.

Methamphetamine, the most commonly abused type of amphetamine, increased in production and trafficking during the 1990's to become the most prevalent illegally manufactured synthetic drug in the United States. Analysis of the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, released semi-annually, suggests that efforts to reduce illicit, clandestine production of methamphetamine may be having an impact on workplace positive tests for the drug.

While the 2007 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index shows that positive methamphetamine tests have decreased, it also indicates that the use of amphetamine in the general workforce has increased slightly, by about five percent. Testing for methamphetamine and amphetamine was conducted among employees and applicants in the U.S. workforce tested for the class of drugs called amphetamines.

"Although some may conclude that there is a reduced availability for methamphetamine, the fact that our data show an increase in amphetamines suggests that some workers might be replacing one stimulant drug for another in the larger drug class of amphetamines," said Barry Sample, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics' Employer Solutions division.

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are both types of stimulants, which typically are used by individuals to increase alertness and relieve fatigue. Stimulants are also used for euphoric effects or to counteract the "down" feeling of tranquilizers or alcohol. Possible side effects of stimulants include increased heart and respiratory rates, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils and decreased appetite. High doses may cause rapid or irregular heartbeat, loss of coordination or collapse. Indications of possible misuse may include excessive activity, talkativeness, irritability, argumentativeness or nervousness.

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index shows that the percentage of positive tests for cocaine was down 19 percent among the U.S. general workforce since the first half of 2007 - the largest single-year drop since 1997. Positive tests for cocaine among the general workforce declined to 0.58 percent in 2007 from 0.72 percent in 2006.

Additionally, drug use by employees remains at its lowest level since Quest Diagnostics began publishing the Drug Testing Index in 1988. Among the combined U.S. workforce, only 3.8 percent of the tests had positive results -- the same level reported in 2006 -- compared to a high of 13.6 percent in 1988. Further, among safety-sensitive federal workers only, the Drug Testing Index showed that drug use was at an all-time low of 1.8 percent of the tested work force.

The 2007 Drug Testing Index is a summary of results from 8.4 million workplace drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics between January and December 2007. Results are based on tests that Quest Diagnostics performs for employers that conduct pre-employment, random or for-cause drug testing. For more information, visit http://www.questdiagnostics.com.

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