Western, Midwestern states register higher methamphetamine usage

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE: DGX), the world's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, today issued its annual report on U.S. worker drug use, the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™. The study includes its first state-by-state analysis of methamphetamine positives, based on more than 4.5 million urine specimens collected from the general U.S. workforce from January-December 2010, revealing that several Western and Midwestern states register dramatically higher workforce positive prevalence rates for methamphetamine than the national average. The report also shows that while efforts around the country to control availability of the highly addictive substance and educate against its use may be making progress in some areas, the drug's attraction among U.S. workers may be moving eastward.

Among the 42 states with sufficient data to compare to the national average for positive workplace drugs tests for methamphetamine in 2010, those notably above were:

  • Hawaii – 410% greater than the national average
  • Arkansas – 280% greater than the national average
  • Oklahoma – 240% greater than the national average
  • Nevada – 180% greater than the national average
  • California – 140% greater than the national average
  • Wyoming – 130% greater than the national average
  • Utah – 120% greater than the national average
  • Arizona – 100% greater than the national average
  • Kansas – 80% greater than the national average

"While the western half of our country consistently struggles with dramatically higher methamphetamine positives than the nation as a whole, the American workforce overall faces a continued national challenge, and our data suggest that methamphetamine's stronghold may be moving eastward into the Midwest and South," said Dr. Barry Sample, Director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. "In 2010 alone, thousands of U.S. workers tested positive for this highly addictive substance that can affect behavior and judgment, and quickly change the course of a life."

While overall positivity for methamphetamine use in the U.S. general workforce dropped dramatically from 0.18% in 2006 to 0.11% in 2008, the decline in the drug's use appears to have halted thereafter, with a 0.10% positivity rate in both 2009 and 2010. Regional analysis of the same five-year period suggests that some high prevalence areas may be showing improvement while others are rising in comparison to the national average in recent years.

The Eastern border of the nation so far remains relatively insulated from methamphetamine prevalence in the workforce. New York fared well below the national average in 2010, as did Washington DC, and Massachusetts. Methamphetamine prevalence in Georgia was 20% higher than the national average.  Recent news reports tell of large-scale "drug busts" seizing millions of dollars of the substance per incident in various parts of the country, including the East.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug stimulant. The substance produces short, intense periods of euphoria, alertness, concentration, and energy as well as irritability, restlessness and aggressiveness, among other effects. Methamphetamine is also known for its intense withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue and depression, which can last for weeks and months in chronic users.

Dr. Steven Shoptaw, Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Family Medicine, and a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded clinical researcher focused on medications and behavioral therapies for methamphetamine dependence, commented on the study findings, "In the mid 2000's, indicators were that use of methamphetamine was dropping across the population. But this is a highly addictive substance, and in the clinics, we saw demand for treatment remain high during that time. While many people use methamphetamine recreationally for its euphoric effects, I've also worked with patients who, paralyzed by the recession and juggling multiple jobs and family responsibilities, started using methamphetamine for its 'functional' stimulant benefit. What they didn't realize is that methamphetamine can wreak havoc on their judgment, their health, their families and their lives. For these sorts of people, we now provide economic counseling in the treatment setting, helping people to live their lives in scale, without using methamphetamine."

Recently, cross-border drug cartels have been reported to be operating highly productive "superlabs" that are creating new access points to methamphetamine in the U.S. At the same time, new methods for making small amounts of methamphetamine have proliferated in the U.S., creating unprecedented mobility in the domestic "meth lab." Attempts to control the availability of over-the-counter medications used in methamphetamine production persist, but do not appear to date to have completely curbed the illicit manufacturing. In fact, illegally acquiring and reselling over-the-counter medications used to make methamphetamine has been noted as a flourishing cottage industry. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health), "past-month" methamphetamine use rose in 2009 after declining between 2006-2008.

Five-Year Positivity Rate for Cocaine in the U.S. General Workforce Drops 65%; Amphetamine Up 57%

Other results from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index show that positive workforce drug tests for cocaine in the general U.S. workforce continued to decline in 2010 vs. 2009, down 13.8% (0.25% vs. 0.29%) and down 65% (0.25% vs. 0.72%) during the five-year period 2006-2010. However, positive workforce drug tests for amphetamine in the U.S. general workforce continued to increase in 2010 vs. 2009, up 15.8% (0.57% vs. 0.66%) and up 57% (0.42% vs. 0.66%) during the five-year period 2006-2010. Since Quest Diagnostics began tracking positive workforce drug tests in the Drug Testing Index in 1988, there has been a steady decline in overall positives in the U.S. general workforce.

SOURCE Quest Diagnostics Incorporated

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