Rise in Failed Workplace Drug Tests

A leading national medical lab says drug use by employees and prospective job applicants is increasing.

The data shows this trend is happening nationwide, including in the state of Wisconsin. From pre-employment to random screens, many companies drug test their employees.

Quest diagnostics, one of the largest clinical labs in the country found that workplace drug screens often show positive results. Wisconsin has a larger percentage of workers testing positive for drugs than the national average

A drug screen technician in Eau Claire said this data doesn't surprise her. 

"We have people in everyday that test positive for something," said Lisa Martin of All Lab Tests Fast in Eau Claire. 

The lab conducts hundreds of drug tests each year, testing employees from large companies to government agencies.

"The Walmarts of the world, the postal, us postal service, just larger national accounts we do a lot of testing with them and they contract with us," said Rich Palzkill, owner.

Data shows many positive drug results in workers from the central and northeastern parts of the state.

Martin said there is also a high rate of drug use in Western Wisconsin.

She said workers often test positive for meth, marijuana and benzos.

Martin said benzos are prescribed drugs often found in test results and she said these drugs are often used illegally or abused. 

"Every place has a medical review officer that will go over your prescriptions and they thoroughly go thorough it, so they know if it’s an abused case or not," said Martin.

While national data shows a 13 percent increase in positive testing for cocaine, Martin said she doesn't see it often in her lab.

She said regardless of the drug or job industry, drug use continues to rise. "It is all occupations. Drugs really are everywhere," she said.

Palzkill said he expects to see an increase in state wide drug testing.

“As you can see in the state of Wisconsin they’re looking to implement that for the food stamp program,” he said.

Palzkill said drug testing plays a huge role in workforce development.

“I think employers are looking to make sure that they’re workforce is drug free and it’s a safety issue plus they can save money on their insurance premiums,” he said.

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