Maui News

Workforce Drug Tests Show Hike in Cocaine Use in 2015

January 5, 2016, 3:46 PM HST
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Graphic by Wendy Osher/Maui Now.

Graphic by Wendy Osher/Maui Now.

Drug usage discovered in workforce drug testing remained nearly flat in 2015, according to end-of-year statistics compiled by Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc., with the exception of a hike in cocaine usage, which showed a 100% increase year over year.

Cocaine use jumped from 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2015.

DLS reports that the rising trend started in the second quarter of 2015, moving from 0.2% in first quarter 2015 to 0.4% in the second quarter, dipping to 0.3% in the third quarter and back again to 0.4% in the fourth quarter.

“The increase in cocaine abuse is significant even though the usage is low in comparison to most of the other drugs,” said Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology at Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. “Higher use was still synthetic urine, which rose to 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and remained at that higher level throughout 2015,” he said.

Methamphetamine, or ice use, declined by 22% year over year, but is still at about 0.7%, which is about four times the average ice use found in workforce drug testing on the mainland (0.17% for 2014), according to DLS. Methamphetamine use in the fourth quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015 was at 0.9% and declined to 0.7% in the third and fourth quarters.

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Opiate use declined 25% year over year, from 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2015. Marijuana use also declined, 8% year over year, from 2.5% in fourth quarter 2014 to 2.3% fourth quarter 2015, which is close to the US mainland 2014 positive rate of 2.4%.

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Company representatives say prescription drugs, such as opioids used to treat pain, are not part of workforce drug testing as mandated by federal or state law. Although In 2012, Hawaiʻi banned several categories of ‘legal’ synthetic drugs such as bath salts, they cannot, by federal or state law, be tested for in workplace drug testing; however, if a physician orders it, tests for synthetic drugs can be performed.

DLS’ quarterly sample size typically includes between 7,000 to 10,000 drug tests.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. is a medical testing laboratory that offers a comprehensive range of routine and esoteric testing services and the most sophisticated forensic toxicology and substance abuse testing services in Hawaiʻi.  The company employs more than 600 people and has locations throughout Hawaiʻi, Saipan and Guam.

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