Ask the Expert: drug trends in America

by Lindsey Amaya on October 3, 2018

During one of our summer webinars, Betsy Sears, Executive Vice President, Laboratory Strategy and Sales, and Dr. Barry Sample, Quest Diagnostics Senior Director, Science and Technology, examined two of America’s populations for drug positivity rates by various drug classes. This included a workforce population and ExamOne life insurance applicants. Understanding the drug trends and positivity rates of these two unique groups helps insurers identify potential mortality risk associated with the rise of opioid use in our country and drug positivity.

Talking with our experts

We recently sat down with our two experts to answer some of the questions submitted by our webinar attendees.

Q. Do marijuana testing numbers include cannabidiols (CBD) as being “positive” in testing? Or, are those numbers confined to testing of higher levels present of THC?
A. While CBD does share some of the same structures as THC, it will not produce a “high.” In some states where medical marijuana is legal, CBD products are allowed to have residual levels of THC up to 5%. You may wonder if this small amount is enough to produce a positive drug test. The answer is most likely not. A product that contains significantly high concentrations of THC in addition to CBD, could produce a positive drug test. However, if no THC is present in conjunction with CBD, the drug test will be negative.


Q. Are certain shampoos and hair washes still effective in masking the positive hair drug tests?
A. Research has shown that various shampoos, conditions, sprays and gels have little to no effect on the results of the hair specimen. You can read full details here.

Q. One slide demonstrated triple-digit increases in urine methamphetamine positivity from 2013-2017 for four regions in the United States. Do you know the prevalence for the states not shown?
A. This interactive map designed by Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, displays the percent positivity across the country. You can easily zoom in to a specific state to review positivity by zip code, as well as view the state rate compared to the national rate. Feel free to take a closer look by also changing the selected drug and year to see a different view.

Discover your applicant drug positivity rate

We hope you find these answers relevant as you identify what parameters determine your drug testing requirements. If you are interested in discovering drug trends and positivity rates within your applicant population, we can help with that.

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