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trends in uk drug testing

The Top Five Trends in UK Drug Testing

In today’s Zoom Testing Blog post we look at trends within the UK drug testing industry. What’s new and what is changing in the industry? We will also look at how these changes are effecting employers and individuals alike.

1. Drug Testing At Work is More Common

As has been reported many times in this blog, workplace drug testing is becoming more common amongst UK firms. Previously, the need to randomly test employees was always restricted to companies that employed staff in safety-critical roles, such as transport or construction. However, this trend is changing. Employers are starting to regularly bring drug tests in at the recruitment stage. For existing staff, random drug tests are becoming more common. Teachers in Scotland, for example, will be randomly tested for drugs or alcohol if a reasonable suspicion exists.

Smoke free workplaces is also still a theme and some employers may insist their employees taking a Cotinine Drug Test. This type of nicotine drug test can check for recent tobacco usage, be that through smoking or vaping.

2. Positive Drug Tests for Cocaine Are Increasing

As Lily Allen once sang  “Everyone’s At It” and it does seem that she seems to have a point. Based on anecdotal evidence only, we can confirm that the number of positive drug tests for cocaine has risen dramatically in the last few years. Cocaine is becoming cheaper and is more accessible so more people are using it. Worried Pub owners and bar managers are using cocaine wipes to check surfaces for the drug, as they may lose their licence if drugs are found in their establishment.

3. Cannabis Is Still the Most Commonly Detected Drug of Abuse

Weed is still number one when it comes to drug testing. Our urine drug tests for cannabis remain popular and use of the drug in the UK is still high. After alcohol, cannabis is the drug of choice for many. This cause a number of problems when you realise that cannabis is twice as strong now as it was a decade ago. Since drug driving laws were introduced in England in 2015, drug drivers have most often been picked up whilst under the influence of cannabis. Roadside drug testing for cannabis and cocaine was introduced in Scotland in 2019.

4. More Prisons Are Testing for Spice

The spice epidemic in UK prisons shows no signs of abating.  Outside of our jails we have seen a worrying increase in the use of spice and this has also been the case in UK gaols. In one UK prison recently, half of the prisoners failed a drug test.

Prisoners have been smoking the drug in e-cigarettes. The drug has often been smuggled into the prison by drone or in liquid from, soaked in letters. Some prisons have resorted to using sniffer dogs to detect the drug as well as using drug identification tests for spice.

5. Use of Ecstasy (MDMA) Is Back on the Rise

A few years back we recognised the resurgence in popularity of ecstasy, also know as MDMA or Molly. The increasing use of the drug has continued since then. Worryingly though, the market has been infiltrated by other drugs, putting the lives of Ecstasy users at risk. Super strength ecstasy now exists and poses a big danger to users who don’t know what they are handling. Levels of MDMA in pills are also highly questionable.


This post first appeared in June 2019.
Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash
Zoom Testing is a leading UK supplier of Drug Testing Kits


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