Workers testing positive for drugs appears to be on the rise, The Wall Street Journal has revealed.

One of the world’s most famous publications has released figures from millions of workplace drug tests, showing that US workers are failing drug tests in greater numbers.

Drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine and prescription opiates were found in almost 4% of the urine drug tests conducted.

This may not sound extreme, but unfortunately it does display a reversal of the trend that drug use was declining among workers from the US. Prior to 2013, positive test results had dropped nearly every year for 24 years, from 13.6% in 1988 to the period’s greatest trough of 3.5% in 2012.

Some positive results may be later discarded if the sample donor provided a relevant prescription for the legal drugs but the majority was due to the use of illicit drugs or from misuse.

Workplace Drug Testing Positives Results Rise

The Wall Street Journal also reported that experts are unsure why drug usage was back on the rise, so far being unable to conclusively link drug consumption to economic cycles, and it also quoted a 2013 paper from the Federal Bank of St Louis that concluded “the Great Recession did not generate a clear temporary or permanent pattern in rates of substance abuse.”

The drug most commonly found in the workers’ urine drug tests was marijuana, which accounts for nearly half of all positive tests. The Journal suggested that some would predict that this is the case because of a greater cultural tolerance of this particular drug, especially when compared with the perception of illicit substances. An indication of tolerance may be evident in the legalisation of marijuana in some form in over twenty states.

Other common substances that provided positive urine drug test results were amphetamines, opiates and tranquilisers, which most districts would have much less of a cultural tolerance.

Workplace Testing Benefits

The Journal used Jim Reidy, an American attorney to summarise why more businesses were utilising workplace testing.

It stated: ‘He has seen employers in Colorado and Washington adopt or expand testing policies, partly with the rationale that screening people out before they are hired puts firms in a less vulnerable position than firing marijuana users down the road—and possibly facing legal challenges based on the state laws’

It also suggested that more companies in the US are utilising hair drug testing, which can establish a history of substance misuse over a longer period than urine drug testing, although both methods have their advantages.

The Journal summarised how important all forms of Drug & Alcohol testing in general are to businesses, especially during the pre-employment screening process stating: ‘Most employment-related drug tests are administered to job candidates, usually after an offer has been extended but before employment begins.’

It added: ‘More than half of all U.S. employers required tests for all post-offer job candidates in 2011, according to the most recent data available from the Society for Human Resource Management. In nearly all cases, employers decline to hire candidates with a verified positive result, said Mr. Reidy.’

Unparalleled Workplace Testing Service

If you are an employer that requires workplace testing, whether it is hair drug testing, urine drug testing or workplace testing for alcohol then please contact our friendly UK based customer service team on 0333 600 1300 or

At AlphaBiolabs we have an unparalleled Same Day Drug Confirmation testing service, with the fastest turnaround time available, offering drug confirmation results the same day when samples arrive at our laboratory before 9.30am.

Our laboratory is UKAS ISO 17025 accredited and our sample collectors maintain chain of custody, so our results are legally defensible, which is particularly important if an employee formally disputes the results.

AlphaBiolabs offer Drug & Alcohol testing for all purposes including Pre-Employment Screening, Random Drug Testing / Random Alcohol Testing, For Cause Testing, Post Incident / Post Accident Testing and Return to Work Testing.

Furthermore, we offer comprehensive and customised business services such as Drug & Alcohol Misuse Policy Advice and Drug & Alcohol Misuse Awareness Training and Education. We also have a dedicated network of fully-qualified sample-collectors that are able to respond to your workplace testing needs rapidly and we can train a representative of your staff to collect samples to the highest standards.