East Hawaii News

Workforce Drug Testing Shows Higher Cocaine Use

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pixabay laboratoryDiagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. released its 2015 end-of-year workforce drug testing statistics on Tuesday, and while overall drug usage discovered in the tests was flat, a spike was seen in cocaine usage.

Officials with DLS say there was a 100 percent increase year-over-year in testing detection of cocaine use. The number jumped from 0.2 percent in the forth quarter of 2014 to 0.4 percent closing out 2015.

Heightened numbers began during the second quarter of 2015, when the number rose to 0.4 percent before dipping one tenth of a percent to 0.3 in the third quarter and heading back up to 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. courtesy image.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. courtesy image.

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


The use of methamphetamine decreased by 22 percent year-over-year in the workforce. based on DLS testing statistics. The number sits at 0.7 percent, which is nearly four times the average methamphetamine use on the mainland in 2014, which was 0.17 percent.

During the fourth quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015, methamphetamine use was 0.9 percent. That number dropped slightly to 0.7 during the third and fourth quarters.

A 25 percent decline was observed in the year-over-year number of opiate use. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the opiate use percentage was at 0.4. That number dropped to 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.


An eight percent decline in marijuana was also recorded on a year-over-year basis. The percentage was 2.5 in the fourth quarter of 2014 and later dropped to 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015. This percentage is close to the United States mainland’s positive rate of 2.4 percent in 2014.

DLS officials say prescription drugs like opioids are used to treat pain and are not part of workforce drug testing, as mandated by federal or state law.

In 2012, Hawai’i banned several categories of legal synthetic drugs, like bath salts. These drugs cannot be tested for in workplace drug testing under federal and state law. The tests can be performed only if a physician orders it.


The 2015 sample size ranged between 7,000 and 10,000 drug tests.

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