Truck drivers, pilots, rail operators and bus drivers federally mandated to be randomly drug and alcohol tested are testing positive for drugs more often, especially cocaine and amphetamines, according to a recently released survey from Quest Diagnostics.
The study found a 33% jump in testing positive for cocaine during 2011 among “safety -sensitive workers.” The data, collected from 1.6 million drug tests done last year, also show a nearly 26% increase in positive tests for amphetamines.
These upward trends come on the heels of stricter government drug testing rules, which took effect in October 2010, along with new lower drug testing cutoff levels for substances, such as cocaine and amphetamines, according to a CBS News WebMD report.
Safety-sensitive workers tested positive for cocaine at the highest levels since 2008, and methamphetamine use was at the highest level since prior to 2007. Both of these drugs are stimulants, the study points out.
Researchers suspect the increase in positive tests for these substances likely stems from the newly reduced cutoff point, as well as from greater use of prescription medications containing amphetamines to treat ADHD.
In the general workforce, the number of positive tests for amphetamines is up nearly 17% compared to 2010, and it is up by 75% since 2007. Positive cocaine tests are also up 8% in 2011 compared to 2010.
The number of positive drug tests among safety-sensitive workers is lower at 1.7% compared to 4.1% in the general workforce, the study found.