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Cocaine Use Found At 10-Year Low Among US Workers

Armen Hareyan's picture

Cocaine Use Among US Workers

An unprecedented decline in cocaine use by American workers drove use of the illicit drug to a new low during the first half of 2007.

The latest findings are based on results of more than 4.4 million workplace drug tests for cocaine performed by Quest Diagnostics across the U.S. between January and June 2007.

The 0.58 percent positivity rate for cocaine during the first six months of 2007 in the combined U.S. workforce represents a 15.9 percent decrease from the positivity rate for the full year 2006. Cocaine positivity in the first six months of 2007 among the combined U.S. workforce is at its lowest point since 1997, when the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index first reported on the positivity rate for cocaine as a percentage of all employer-related drug tests performed to detect illicit drugs. The combined U.S. workforce refers to general workers and federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

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The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index showed that positivity for cocaine declined 20.7 percent among federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers, to 0.46 percent for the first six months of 2007, compared to 0.58 percent for all of 2006. Among the general workforce, positivity for cocaine declined 15.3 percent, falling to 0.61 percent for the period between January and June 2007 compared to 0.72 percent for 2006.

"Not only did the positivity rate fall to its lowest level since Quest Diagnostics began reporting on cocaine rates a decade ago, but also the decline was truly across the board, falling by double-digits in all but one of nine regions of the country," said Barry Sample, Ph.D., director of Science and Technology for the Employer Solutions division of Quest Diagnostics. "While it is too soon to point to a trend, the significant decline in positivity rates in different workforce categories and across regions may suggest that our nation's workers are choosing not to use cocaine or that they lack access to the drug."

Regional Declines

The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index also tracked cocaine positivity rates for the combined U.S. workforce by nine geographic regional divisions of the U.S., as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and reported in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The Northeast region's New England Division, consisting of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, experienced a decline of 21.9 percent, the largest drop of all divisions, for the first six months of 2007 compared to 2006. The Midwest Region's West North Central Division, which consists of the Dakotas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska, declined by 9.5%, the least significant decline of the divisions.

"The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index: Cocaine Use Among America's Workers -- A Special 2007 Mid-Year Report" was developed partly at the prompting of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"These data are encouraging," said John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy. "Cocaine has destroyed thousands of lives in the U.S. and brought lawlessness and misery to our neighbors. But in recent years, we have had unprecedented cooperation with leaders in Colombia and Mexico. Now is the time to build on this progress."