Drug Misuse in America 2018

Free report provided by Quest Diagnostics

Drug Misuse in America 2018, a Quest Diagnostics Health TrendsTM report, presents findings from analysis of more than 3.9 million de-identified aggregated clinical drug monitoring tests performed by Quest Diagnostics for, patients in all 50 states and D.C., between 2011 and 2017. To our knowledge, this report is the largest of its kind to provide current insights into prescription and illicit drug use and misuse in the United States based on laboratory insights.

The statistics the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide about the drug epidemic are bleak. Drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 Americans in 2017, a 13% (1) increase over the previous year. Among deaths related to overdose with specific drugs, deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) showed the sharpest increase, with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths. Behind these data is devastation. Drug misuse takes lives, destroys families, and affects the fabric of communities. For these reasons, the drug epidemic is one of the most significant and challenging health care issues of our time. 

This report provides insights into the evolving drug misuse epidemic – insights based on analysis of clinician-ordered drug monitoring performed for patients across the United States by Quest Diagnostics.

For clinicians, drug monitoring can provide insights into a patient’s possible use or nonuse of prescribed medications, non-prescribed medications and illicit drugs. Drug monitoring results provide objective information that clinicians can use to help detect and manage substance use disorders, dangerous drug combinations, incomplete treatment, and/or “diversion”. “Diversion” may be instances where the prescribed drug is not found in the patient’s specimen, suggesting the patient is possibly filling the prescription but may be diverting the drug to others. 

Laboratory test results provide objective information that can assist health care providers to assess patients’ use of prescribed medications, other controlled non-prescribed drugs, and illicit drugs. Laboratory data is foundational to health care. As you will see in this report, it can reveal trends and patterns that prescription, claims, and other data cannot, both for the individual and for populations. With these insights, patients, health care providers, and policy makers are empowered to take actions leading to better health. 



1. Overdose Death Rates. (2018, August). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statis¬tics/overdose-death-rates(www.drugabuse.gov)

Free Test Summary provided by Quest DiagnosticsFree Test Summary provided by Quest Diagnostics


The posting of sponsored information and content on this page should not be considered an AAFP endorsement or recommendation of the sponsor's products, services, policies, or procedures. The information and opinions expressed on this page are those of the paid sponsors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the AAFP. The AAFP is not responsible for the content of third-party websites linked from this page; moreover, any links on this page to third-party websites where goods or services are advertised are not endorsements or recommendations by the AAFP of the third-party sites, goods, or services.