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Cocaine Use Among U.S. Workers Down, Amphetamines Up

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Statistics from Quest Diagnostics, the world’s largest provider of diagnostic tests, show that fewer U.S. workers used cocaine or methamphetamines in 2008 than in 2007, but that more took amphetamines. Based on 5.7 million urine tests analyzed by Quest, the findings said cocaine use fell to 0.47% from 0.58%, but that amphetamine use rose from 5.3% to 12.5%.

“While many substances are showing declines in use, a significant trend upward that will be important to watch is the rise in amphetamine positives,” said Robert Willette, a former research chief at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland.

The finding of increased amphetamine use coincides with hospital emergency room data, and may reflect that more drugs are being prescribed to treat ADHD. The tests included U.S. government and private industry employees.

Amphetamines include drugs used to treat ADHD, symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and the drowsiness associated with narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome. Recreationally, amphetamines are called “speed” or “crank.”

In ten years, the drug use of workers has dropped from 13.6% in 1988 to 3.6% in 2008. The 2008 data showed that positive tests for cocaine dropped 29% from 2007, and positive results for methamphetamine dropped 21%. According to Barry Sample, Quest’s director of science and technology, positive results were higher in the civilian workforce than among government workers, which is likely due to random federal drug tests.

Source: WAToday, Cocaine Use Drops Among US Workers, Amphetamines Up, May 7, 2009

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