Magazine article Workforce Management

Screener Sees Drop in Positive Tests; Presence of Meth Falls

Magazine article Workforce Management

Screener Sees Drop in Positive Tests; Presence of Meth Falls

Article excerpt

DRUGS IN THE WORKPLACE

Recent data show that fewer employers are testing positive for drugs, but last month s admission by the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, that he used cocaine and drank heavily was a reminder that, in his words, "even people in my position can become victims of drugs and alcohol."

John Fabrizi confessed only after he was cited in court documents related to an ongoing drug investigation by federal prosecutors. The acknowledgement of his cocaine use came a day alter Quest Diagnostics released its Drug Testing Index, compiled from 73 million workplace drug tests taken throughout the country in 2005.

Highlighted in the biannual index is a drop in the percentage of people who tested positive for amphetamine.

Amphetamine use includes methamphetamine, or meth, a drug that can be prescribed but is more often homebrewed by drug labs with over-the-counter ingredients such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine and then sold illicitly.

Like cocaine, it is a stimulant that can also help people focus and be more productive. However, it is so powerful that users need only take it once a day, making its use easier to conceal in the workplace, says Carol Falkowski, director of research communications for the Hazelden Foundation, which provides addiction treatment and research. The foundation calls moth addiction the nation's most serious drug problem.

"What makes methamphetamine different is that here is a drug that appeals to people who want to plug in and achieve more, as opposed to people who want to drop out," Falkowski says. "Meth addiction and meth abuse can occur to someone who lives in a $20,000 trailer home and a person who lives in S2 million executive's home."

The percentage of those who tested positive for amphetamine use dropped to 0.43 percent of all drug tests administered in the first five months of 2006, down from 0.48 percent in 2005 and 0.52 percent in 2004.

"Increases we've seen among those groups over the course of the last throe and a half years were, to a large extent, reversed with what we are reporting in this report," says Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics' employer solutions division, though he could not say what determined those predilections.

Western states had higher concentrations of workers who tested positive for moth. A map outlining met h use depicts a large concentration of users running nearly contiguously from Arizona to Los Angeles, and then north through California's Central Valley into Sacramento, into northern Nevada and southern Idaho.

The Bush administration attributed the drop in the number of workers who tested positive for methamphetamine use to a decrease in the availability of the drug. …

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