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High Society: Drug prevalence in the UK workplace


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  • 1. High Society:Drug prevalence in the UK workplaceA research report by Concateno, First EditionJuly 2012© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 2. Executive Summary 1With drug use in the UK amongst the highest in Europe , the use of drugs in the workplace is a significanthealth, safety and financial risk for UK businesses. For the first time in the UK, there is significant data tomeasure that risk. Concateno, a leading European drug and alcohol testing provider, has analysed theresults of over 1.6 million UK workplace drug tests over the past five years and has found that: At least 1 in 30 UK employees has drugs in their system at any point in time (which equates to nearly one million people across the UK workforce) There has been a 43 per cent increase in UK employees testing positive for drug use from 2007 to 2011 The most prevalent drugs used by UK employees are cannabis, opiates and cocaine 25-34 year olds are the most likely age group to test positive for Class A drugs – not under 25 year olds, as many assumeThis report aims to provide UK employers, government and industry bodies with an enhanced understandingof drug use in the workplace.ForewordConcateno conducts and supplies over 10 million tests annually into a range of industries and sectors.This research report analyses the results of 1,668,330 drug tests conducted by Concateno’s laboratories onbehalf of 856 UK employers over a five year period (2007 to 2011) to measure the incidence of drug useamongst employees.The tests analysed in this report have been conducted on those either in employment or as part of pre-employment procedures. Companies that have a drug testing programme in place tend to be mature, safetyand performance-conscious businesses. Therefore, the wider picture of drug use across the UK population islikely to be higher.The 2010/11 British Crime Survey identified three million (8.8%) British adults admitting to using an illicit drug 2in the past year, including those who are unemployed.MethodologyWorkplace drug testing programmes are implemented by organisations of all sizes across a range of industrysectors throughout the UK. The most common sectors include public transport, freight haulage, emergencyservices, utilities, retail, manufacturing and construction.The tests analysed in this report have been conducted as part of random or pre-employment programmes,rather than following an incident at work or where there was a suspicion of drug use. All were conducted inorganisations that had an estabished drug testing policy in place. This means that employees know theycould be tested as part of their employment.Test results are from both urine and oral fluid analysis, however, most workplace drug testing is conductedusing urine samples. In both sample types, where an employee tests positive for a drug, they will have mostlikely consumed the drug in recent days.1 EMCDDA, 2011, Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 3. At the time of sample collection, the donor is asked to provide information relating to their use of bothprescribed and over-the-counter medications over the past 30 days. This information is used to assist andsupport the interpretation of the drug test result given either by the toxicologist or Medical Review Officer(MRO), since positive results may be due to the use of prescription-based or over-the-counter medication.The data in this report only includes positive results for substances found that were not accounted for bymedication declared at the time of sample collection or to the MRO during the review process. InConcateno’s experience, positive results for opiates are likely to occur from non-declared use of over-the-counter medication. Similarly, positive results for benzodiazepines and methadone are typically due toprescription drug use. However, in both cases positive results may also occur from illicit use due to thediversion of a prescription.The term opiates throughout this report is used to define the presence of prescription or over-the-counteropiates (such as morphine, codeine or dihydrocodeine). Opiates in dietary sources have been accounted forin reviewing these results and positives from these sources have not been included. Heroin use has beendistinguished from opiate use by the detection of the heroin-specific metabolite 6-monoacetylmorphine and isreported separately to the use of opiates.Prevalence of Drugs in the WorkplaceDuring 2011, the data from this report demonstrated a 3.23% positivity rate for drugs in the workplace. Thisindicates that approximately 1 in 30 individuals has drugs in their system at any point in time. 3There are 29.23 million people in employment in the UK . If the positivity rate from this report isextrapolated, 940,000 people would have drugs in their system at work right now.The 2011 positivity rate represents a 43% increase on figures from 2007, rising from 2.26% to 3.23% overthat period. The graph below illustrates drug prevalence in the workplace samples tested by Concateno overthis five year period, comprising over 1.6 million tests in total. UK Workplace Drug Prevalence Over Time 3.50% 3.00% 2.50% 2.00% 1.50% % Positive 1.00% 0.50% 0.00% 2007 2008 2009 2010 20113 Office for National Statistics, Employment figures, May 2012© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 4. Organisations that implement drug testing programmes commonly observe decreased drug prevalence rates over several years, often exceeding 50%. The observed increasing drug prevalence trend identified above is heavily influenced by recent adopters of workplace drug testing programmes.Concateno Case Study 1A British business with over 8,000 employees undertook a pilot study to ascertain the level of drug use inthe workplace.Several hundred samples were collected, with 8% of employees tested found to have drugs in theirsystem. Cannabis, opiates, cocaine and amphetamines were the highest drug groups.10% of the positive results were from employees taking multiple drugs at the same time.As a result of being able to measure the prevalence of drug use, this business was able to engage withtheir staff to implement a drug and alcohol testing programme. This was complemented by an EmployeeAssistance Programme to offer free counseling sessions and support for any issue that might cause stressor strain, including concerns about drug use. The graph below analyses the variety of non-declared drug use by UK employees tested as part of this study. This data highlights that cannabis and opiates are the most commonly used drugs by employees. Cocaine, the most common Class A drug, is also significant amongst the 1.6 million tests conducted. Drug Prevalence Within The Workplace 2007-2011 Cannabis 1.93% Opiates 1.87% Cocaine 0.59% Benzodiazepines 0.20% Amphetamines 0.11% Methadone 0.06% Heroin 0.02% 0.00% 0.50% 1.00% 1.50% 2.00% 2.50% Positive © Concateno 2012. Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UK Tel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | vbc1230
  • 5. The following graph demonstrates long-term trends in positive test results by drug type. 2011 resulted in thehighest positivity rates in the last five years for opiates (2.5%) and cannabis (2.38%). Workplace Drug Prevalence Over Time 3.00% 2.50% 2.00% 1.50% 1.00% 0.50% 0.00% 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Cannabis Opiates Cocaine Amphetamines Benzodiazepines Methadone HeroinCocaine saw its lowest prevalence rate in 2009 (0.45%) by UK employees. Rates began increasing in thefollowing two years, to 0.65% in 2011.Conversely, cocaine drug seizures in England and Wales dropped in 2010/11 by 28.3% from their peak in 42008/09 . Assumptions relating to a correlation between decreasing levels of drug seizures and increasingworkplace drug usage should be applied with caution, as there are likely to be a number of factors impactingboth trends. Concateno Case Study 2 A British manufacturing company, employing a workforce of several hundred, partnered with Concateno to implement a testing programme as part of their drug and alcohol policy. In the early stages of the testing programme, the observed positivity rates exceeded 25%. 12 months following implementation, positivity rates decreased to 6%. This represents an observed decrease in drug prevalence of over 75%.4 Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 6. Challenging PerspectivesFrequently, assumptions are made about drug use in society without sufficient evidence to support thesebeliefs. This report has found that while some perceptions about who is using drugs hold true, many ‘drugmyths’ are unfounded, particularly when it comes to the age of drug users.In the following analysis of drug use amongst age groups, Concateno has removed the test results from theheavily regulated and male-dominated transport industry to represent a clearer picture of drug use amongstdifferent demographics.Where the stereotype holds trueWhen drug prevalence is reviewed across gender and age groups, the results are as many would assume –men test positive more frequently than women, younger people test positive more frequently than olderpeople. This can be identified in the graph below for 2011. However, when the results are analysed moredeeply across drug types, a clearer understanding of drug use and patterns can be identified, breaking awayfrom traditional perceptions about drug use. UK Workplace Drug Prevelance Demographic for 2011 6.00% 5.08% 5.00% 4.00% 3.42% 3.55% 3.15% 3.00% 2.00% 1.47% 1.18% 1.00% 0.66% 0.00%© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 7. Busting employee drug myths – Age is just a numberWhilst under 25s have the highest drug test positivity rate, this is heavily weighted because of the high levelof cannabis use amongst the younger age group. The peak age group for most Class A drug use is actually25 to 34, over the last five years (2007-2011). This is true for cocaine (1.22%) and amphetamines (0.21%).This age group also sees the highest use of benzodiazepines (0.29%).This means that Class A drug use peaks a few years after entering the workplace rather than at the start of acareer. Class A drugs can be expensive, and having more disposable income makes drugs like cocaine,heroin and amphetamines more affordable.Opiate use increases noticeably with age. This may be due to increased periodic use of over-the-counterpainkillers. However, it could also reflect long-term dependency on opiate-based drugs.Below, the graph analyses drugs used by different age groups to gain an understanding of the peak age fordifferent types. Workplace Drug Prevalence Across Age Groups 2007 - 2011 6.00% 4.00% 2.00% 0.00% Under 25 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Cannabis Opiates Heroin Cocaine Amphetamines Benzodiazepines Methadone© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 8. Gender PerspectivesDrug prevalence by genderThe following two graphs highlight drug prevalence by women and men against key age groups. Drug Prevelance In The Workplace – Women 3.50% 3.00% 2.50% 2.00% 1.50% 1.00% 0.50% 0.00% Under 25 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Cannabis Benzodiazepines Opiates Heroin Cocaine Amphetamines Methadone Drug Prevelance In The Workplace – Men 6.00% 5.00% 4.00% 3.00% 2.00% 1.00% 0.00% Under 25 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Cannabis Benzodiazepines Opiates Heroin Cocaine Amphetamines MethadoneBy and large the trends for each gender are similar. Key differences include a more rapid decline in cannabisuse by women as compared to men. Additionally, opiate use by women increases in prevalence with age incomparison to the male population.© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230
  • 9. Advice to Employers171 workers were killed at work in the year 2010/11, with 200,000 reportable injuries and 26.4 millionworking days lost due to workplace injuries or work-related illness. The cost to the UK is an estimated £14 5billion (in 2009/10) .A review of research on the effects of cannabis on driving concluded that ‘acute cannabis consumptionnearly doubles the risk of a collision resulting in serious injury or death’ and that ‘this increase was most 6evident for studies of high quality, case-control studies, and studies of fatal collisions’.In line with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workenvironment, and an obligation to ensure that employees are not misusing substances that can impair theirability to carry out tasks safely.Drug and alcohol testing programmes have been proven to reduce the level of substance misuse in theworkplace. However, it is also important for employers to provide support to overcome substance misuse,such as an Employee Assistance Programme and access to skilled specialists and counsellors.Concateno – Global Testing ServicesConcateno provides drug, alcohol and healthcare testing services world-wide.Concateno in brief 10 million+ tests each year 8,500 customers from across all industries, healthcare providers and government bodies 300 sample collection officers – a global network 400 staff – over a third are science graduates Customers in 95 countries 75 police forces rely on our services 3 world-class accredited laboratoriesWorkplace Services:Concateno delivers drug testing solutions across all industries. Their Workplace Services include: Drug and alcohol policy advice Drug testing and alcohol testing Worldwide sample collections Training and education Employee Assistance ProgrammesFor more details contact ConcatenoEmail: enquiries@concateno.comTel: +44 (0)1235 861 4835 Health and Safety Executive, Health and safety statistics, 2010/11 British Medical Journal : Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies andmeta-analysis bmj.e536 (Published 9 February 2012)© Concateno 2012.Concateno, 92 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY, UKTel: +44 (0)1235 861 483 | www.concateno.comvbc1230