Providing a urine sample is only one factor in the drug testing requirements. You will also need to complete a series of forms and paperwork that will take on a great significance should your sample test positive. The primary objective when completing this paperwork is to ensure that you include anything that may influence your results. This could include a prescription drug or cold medication that you've taken. If you have used illegal drugs than you should be extra careful of how you complete these forms.
The Consent Form
The consent form is where you give your permission that your urine will be dug tested. This form has to be signed by the subject or his or her legal guardian. This form allows employers to say that you are being voluntarily tested. In theory, you can refuse a drug test and object to the process, but this will likely raise the suspicion that you are a drug user. The existence of the consent form puts employees in a double bind where they are consenting to something that is not really voluntary. The public relations officer for 3M Corporation, Barbara Perkins, has said in an interview that her company's drug testing policy states that employees who refuse to be tested can be suspended without pay and will have a formal report issued on the incident. If you are thinking about refusing a drug test then it may be wise to speak to a lawyer beforehand.
Information included on the consent form will usually cover the name of the employer, the name of the drug testing company, the date, the name of the employee and his or her ID number and job title. You will be required to confirm that all this information is correct. It also will say something along the lines that you are aware that your urine sample will be tested for alcohol and illicit drugs and that the results of the test will be handed over to your company. You may make a request that test results be treated as confidential and not revealed to anyone else.
Refusing a Drug test
You can refuse to take part in a drug test, but in doing so you may be saying goodbye to your job. Regardless of your reasons for refusal, you will be considered guilty of taking drugs. Consider the case of Joel Youngblood, an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. Have you heard of him? No? Well, that's not surprising; he was fired for refusing a drug test. He hadn't taken any drugs but the mere fact that he didn't want to take the drug test as stipulated in his contract meant that he couldn't play baseball professionally.
The thing that annoyed Youngblood was that his contract said that his employer could test him for drugs whenever they wanted to. His agent explained "It puts you in the position of having to prove your innocence. It's like having the police coming to your house at 3am just to look around. No reason"
Youngblood's agent worked throughout the winter to secure his clients contract for the following year, but his Youngblood's reluctance on drug testing lead the Giants to cancel their offer. Other teams in the league were similarly not interested in giving him an offer. The nine-year veteran of baseball suddenly became unwanted.
Sometimes, a "shy bladder" or the fact that they have urinated recently, means that a subject is physically unable to provide a urine sample. The term "shy bladder" is typically used when a subject can't supply enough urine on demand or they can't urinate when being observed. The collector must make a note of each time the person attempts to provide the sample. If you find yourself in this situation, the Collector will probably give you a lot of water to drink, as much as 8 ounces every half an hour for 2 hours. If after this, you still cannot provide the sample, then they will probably argue that you are refusing.
The drug test process involves disclosing the all the drugs or medications you have taken during the previous week. You will generally be asked to record the name of the drug, why you took it, the dosage, when you received the doctor's prescription and the name of the prescribing doctor. You will then need to sign the disclosure form.
In his classic book, "Conquering the Urine Tests", Nightbyrd says that it's better to cross out "7days" on the form and replace it with "30 days". This is because most medications will stay in your body for a lot longer than 1 week. This will probably raise questions that you should be prepared to answer. If the employer or test administrator asks why you have changed the form you should have a prepared answer such as that you know of situations where false positives have lead drug-free workers to be fired and you value your job too much to risk this happening to you. This is why you are being extra cautious and providing additional information about your recent drug consumption for the past month. It's also a good idea to write a disclaimer on the form along the lines of: "this list is my best recollection. There may have been other legal medications or substances that I have taken which I don't remember at this time". Writing a disclaimer like this may be helpful should a positive test result come back and you need to take legal action.
When someone is in the habit of taking recreational drugs, they will often disclose regular pharmacy medications that may produce a positive result when tested for the recreational drug that they have taken. This is a possible loophole for explaining a positive test result.
If their test comes back positive, they can they use the disclosure form to show that they had taken the relevant over-the-counter medication. A confirmation test will probably be organized by the Medical Review Officer before the results are handed over to the employer, and this test will usually be more accurate in revealing the actual metabolite found in the urine. However, disclosing known cross-reactants before the initial drug test provides additional leverage should there be any legal action following the testing process.
|Drug tested Positive For||Cross-Reactant||Example|
|Amphetamines||Phenypropanolamine||Diatec, Dexatrim, Cotylenol, Triaminic|
|Amphetamines||Ephedrine||Primatene, Bronkotabs, Nyquil|
|Opiates||Dextromethorphan||Vicks Formula 44-M|
Get a Prescription
Another possible options is for you to find a sympathetic doctor who will give you a prescription for a drug that you have already taken, or a drug that is a cross-reactant for a drug that you have taken. You will then have a prescription to disclose. For instance, if you have been taking opiates, then you may want to try to get a prescription for a cough syrup that contains codeine. The cough syrup can then be taken before sitting the drug test and this information provided on the disclosure form. You would also then have a doctor who could provide evidence that the drug was legally prescribed and it may have caused the positive result.
In some cases, employees have asked pharmacies to refer them to a sympathetic doctor. This obviously involves some very subtle questioning. For instance, you may say to the pharmacist that you're new in town and are looking for help to find a new doctor. Saying that your old doctor regularly prescribed a specific medication for a certain problem and that you're looking for someone who works with the same problems may put you on the right track.
Alternatively, in some cases it is better not to disclose some medications that you are taking under a prescription for a legitimate reason. Using a drug for a psychiatric reason, for example, may lead your employer to question what is wrong with you. In this circumstance, the American Disabilities Act would probably classify you as "disabled" and therefore offer you protection from discrimination. But in reality, this can't prevent harmful suspicions.
A lot of employers will prohibit the use of drugs that have specific side effects that can impair performance on the job, even if the employee has a legal prescription. You are still required to disclose these legal medications. If you do take something that has been prescribed that may impair your performance (such as epilepsy drugs or sleeping pills) then you may want to consult your doctor and attorney to find out the best approach to completing the disclosure form and taking the test.
Using your Own Physician
You may request that the details of the drug test are sent to your own physician. You could write this request on the consent form so that it then becomes one of the conditions that must be met in order for your consent to have been given. If your test returns a positive result, your physician may be able to assist by explaining why a the positive result is false, such as particular medications that have been prescribed.
It is possible for employees who have never taken any drugs to have a false positive result which comes about due to problems in the clerical process or custody chain procedures. You would be wise to plan ahead to protect yourself from this occurrence. One way to do this is to ask for a split sample. This involves dividing your sample in half. Half is then sent to be tested as usual, and the other half is frozen or refrigerated. If a positive result comes back from the lab, then you can have the remaining half split again. One half of this is then sent away for the confirmation test and the other half sent to your lawyer who can arrange an independent test. Using this method will ensure that you have legal evidence to support your defense. This strategy is particularly important when the testing is done in response to a workplace accident or an accusation of drug use.
Custody and Control
The chain of custody forms used in drug testing used to be a real nightmare because a different type of form was used in each company. This situation was improved by new rules that made an approved Custody and Control Form (CCF) compulsory. These forms are used to record the sample collections. The CCF was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and it will usually be provided by the drug testing company. This CCF cannot be altered in any way. For further information you may want to order the "Urine Specimen Collection Handbook for Federal Workplace Drug testing Programs" from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). You can also get it from the NCADI website, which is www.health.org/workpl.htm