High at Work: Rates of Workplace Methamphetamine Use Highest in Hawaii, Arkansas and Oklahoma

A new study released by Quest Diagnostics Inc. reveals that several states register workplace methamphetamine rates as much as 400 percent higher than the national average. Based on more than 4.5 million urine specimens collected from the general U.S. workforce from January-December 2010, the report also shows that while efforts around the country to control availability of the highly addictive substance and educate against its use may be making progress in some areas, the drug’s attraction among U.S. workers may be moving eastward.

Among the 42 states with sufficient data to compare to the national average for positive workplace drugs tests for methamphetamine in 2010, those showing rates above the national average include:

· Hawaii – 410 percent greater than the national average
· Arkansas – 280 percent greater than the national average
· Oklahoma – 240 percent greater than the national average
· Nevada – 180 percent greater than the national average
· California – 140 percent greater than the national average
· Wyoming – 130 percent greater than the national average
· Utah – 120 percent greater than the national average
· Arizona – 100 percent greater than the national average
· Kansas – 80 percent greater than the national average

“While the western half of our country consistently struggles with dramatically higher methamphetamine positives than the nation as a whole, the American workforce overall faces a continued national challenge, and our data suggest that methamphetamine’s stronghold may be moving eastward into the Midwest and South,” said Dr. Barry Sample, director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. “In 2010 alone, thousands of U.S. workers tested positive for this highly addictive substance that can affect behavior and judgment, and quickly change the course of a life.”

While overall positivity for methamphetamine use in the U.S. general work force dropped dramatically from 0.18 percent in 2006 to 0.11 percent in 2008, the decline in the drug’s use appears to have halted thereafter, with a 0.10 percent positivity rate in both 2009 and 2010. Regional analysis of the same 5-year period suggests that some high prevalence areas may be showing improvement while others are rising in comparison to the national average in recent years.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug stimulant. The substance produces short, intense periods of euphoria, alertness, concentration and energy as well as irritability, restlessness and aggressiveness, among other effects. Methamphetamine also is known for its intense withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue and depression, which can last for weeks and months in chronic users.

Commenting on the findings of the Quest Diagnostic study, Dr. Steven Shoptaw, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Family Medicine, and a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded clinical researcher, says, “While many people use methamphetamine recreationally for its euphoric effects, I’ve also worked with patients who, paralyzed by the recession and juggling multiple jobs and family responsibilities, started using methamphetamine for its ‘functional’ stimulant benefit. What they didn’t realize is that methamphetamine can wreak havoc on their judgment, their health, their families and their lives. For these sorts of people, we now provide economic counseling in the treatment setting, helping people to live their lives in scale, without using methamphetamine.”

Other results from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index show that positive work force drug tests for cocaine in the general U.S. work force continued to decline in 2010 down 13.8 percent from 2009 and down 65 percent during the 5-year period 2006-2010.

For more information on the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index and the full 2010 tables, visit http://www.questdiagnostics.com/employersolutions/drug_testing_index_es.html.

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