Meth Comeback

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There’s a disturbing report recently published by Quest Diagnostics. It’s called the National Workforce Drug Testing Index. It shows the pattern of use by the employed (or those about to be employed) of illegal drugs and methamphetamine is on the rise.

Among other things, Quest Diagnostic does drug screening. These can be pre-employment or random screenings for those already working. While they do not track and identify those who test positive beyond reporting to the requester, they do maintain statistics on the number and type of positive results by state in a cumulative fashion.

Arguably, these statistics are a better measure of those who are abusing meth than other types of measures like self reporting or arrests for the drug. No single measure reaches the entire population, but drug screenings at least give a definite look at the working population.

They found that the following four states had increased positive tests, far above the national average: Hawaii, Arkansas and Oklahoma lead the list, with more than 200% higher rates than the nation as a whole (Hawaii hit a phenomenal 410% over the national average). Other states that had more than double the national average were Nevada, California, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona.

According to the report, methamphetamine use was falling (perhaps due in part to the restrictions placed on pseudoephedrine sales) but has jumped up again. On a five-year basis, amphetamines are up 57% nationwide while cocaine use in the workforce has fallen during the same period by 65%.

Other than Hawaii, meth remains largely a western problem. Eastern states like New York and Massachusetts scoring below the national average.

This picture may be skewed somewhat because, unlike drugs that are used entirely for “entertainment,” some types of amphetamines are used by workers to increase their ability on the job. Traditionally, long-haul truckers and others who worked extended hours found they could use amphetamines to avoid falling asleep. This was not addressed in the report.

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