Reasons behind Drug testing

The reasons behind a company wanting to tests its employees for drugs are numerous. It could be that someone was in an accident. They may want to know if their employees are taking drugs. Maybe they use drug testing to find out if a person is in a fit state to work. Another possible reason may be that they want to deter employees from using drugs through the threat of random testing. Testing applicants who apply for a job has become common practice.

Another approach has been termed “presumptive testing”. This occurs when someone in charge at a workplace suspects that an employee has been taking drugs (as a result of various factors such as messy appearance, slurred words or any of the other signs of intoxication). Testing is also used when employees are required to prove that they have been abstinent from drugs. This often occurs in conjunction with treatment. An employee who has tested positive may be required to provide drug-free urine samples on a regular basis in order to keep his or her job. In some cases an employee may need to prove that they had not taken drugs in order to show that they were not responsible for an accident.

The Investigation of Accidents

One very common reason for drug-testing is the investigation of industrial accidents. There are two risks faced by employees when they are tested after an accident. The first is that any legitimate medication (prescribed by a doctor) that the employee has been taking will usually appear in the urine sample and this can often be inferred to be an illicit drug. The second risk is that in can take a long time for traces of drug metabolites to disappear from urine. This means that if you had certain medications, or consumed marijuana, several days before the accident it may still appear in your sample if you have to take a marijuana drug test. The fact that these traces are visible in your urine sample may be interpreted as evidence that you were under the influence when the accident occurred. Therefore, even though drug testing after an accident may seem reasonable at first, the data returned from the tests may be completely irrelevant to the cause of the accident. The unfortunate reality is that employers often don’t understand this and they are quite prepared to find employees responsible for accidents purely on the basis of drug test results.

Work Fitness

Drug testing is also used to determine whether or not employees are fit for work. One example of this may be testing airline pilots for alcohol consumption using a breathalyzer before they are permitted to take control of the plane. If the breathalyzer finds certain levels of alcohol vapor, this result will go on display to the pilot and crew.

Mass Screening

The term “screen” is used when a drug test is administered to a big group of people to find who has been using drugs. These screens are cheap and easily analyzed. They are generally used before new employees start working and in random drug-tests. Random screening tests are used frequently by many organizations and the military in order to find drug users. Certain employees are randomly selected for screening, regardless of whether drug use is suspected. Screening subjects can be taken from any level or role within the organization, not only positions that involve an element of risk or safety.

Random screening is an effective drug use deterrent, according to officials and experts, due to the fact that anyone in the organization could be tested at any time. Proponents of this system argue that it is fair because the randomness doesn’t involve any element of accusation or stigma. It also (supposedly) removes the possibility of supervisor bias.

All of these arguments in favor of random testing have been rejected by civil rights attorneys. According to their point of view, random drug-testing “reverses the presumption of innocence upon which much of our jurisprudence is built, and violates the strong prohibition of dragnet searches sweeping in the many who are innocent in order to find the few who are guilty which is the hallmark of a free and democratic society.” Random screening is basically a fishing expedition. Innocent drug-free people can get caught. You need to know how to avoid this situation!

Many false positive results have been returned through mass screening tests. People with no drug use history are treated as suspects. Positive test results can be returned from people who use certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs. When this happens, the subject is then forced to defend themselves in order to prove they are innocent. Even if the test doesn’t return a positive result for drugs, the testers may find something else in your bodily fluids, such as pregnancy or a certain medical condition. This could be information that you don’t necessarily want your boss to know.

Pre-Employment Screening

Job applicants will often have their urine screened for drugs before they are given a job. This means that your employment opportunities can be restricted even if you only used drugs once or twice in a way that didn’t impair your capacity to work at all. When you are job seeking, it is in your interest to learn as much as possible about drug-tests so that you can be prepared, even if you have never taken drugs. In this way you can prepare for and make sure you pass drug testing so you can get employed and succeed in the job. Organizations will generally not let you know the reasons for declining your job application. It may be that your drug test was positive and you are never told or given the chance to defend yourself.

Confirming a Positive Result

The results from screening tests or initial presumptive tests are checked using “confirmatory tests”. This involves retesting previous positive results using a more accurate method. This method is more powerful, costly and less likely to produce false positive results.

The decision whether or not to conduct a confirmatory test often depends on what the results will be used for. If the initial test was conducted as part of a treatment program, then its main aim is determining whether the subject has relapsed. A positive result at this stage has no strict consequences and so the initial results are sufficient and don’t need to be confirmed. Alternatively, where one positive test result has serious disciplinary consequences (such as employment termination or losing a license) confirmatory tests are required in order to satisfy legal or “forensic” standards. This is something that you are entitled to demand.

Typically, the subject will not be required to give a second urine sample for the confirmatory test. Instead, some of the original urine sample is set aside and tested again using the confirmatory method. This second test is more powerful and uses different chemicals in order to check the initial results.

Controlling Drug Abuse

The United States government argues that one of the primary reasons for conducting drug tests is to control drug abuse. This is demonstrated by the fact that the military doesn’t test recruits before they are enlisted. The military accepts drug users because they want to clean them up and term them into soldiers. Instead, random testing is used extensively by the military to promote drug abstinence. If soldiers test positive they will face the court-martial and maybe a dishonorable discharge which will have repercussions throughout their life. This system works. The Navy introduced random drug tests in the early 1980’s and this produced a drop in positive drug test results from 48% (in 1980) to 21% (in 1982). In these tests, marijuana was detected most frequently. What these results ignore is the obvious shift towards increased alcohol consumption. This means that American soldiers are drinking more and damaging their livers, rather than smoking marijuana and thinking more!

People in favor of drug testing argue that using the tests in order to control drug abuse is justifiable. This is because the implementation of random tests means that there is an expectation of testing and only drug abusers will test positive. This is obviously incorrect. Many people who don’t take drugs return positive test results, and are subsequently accused of drug abuse.

Proving Abstinence

Drug testing is also often used to prove an abstinence from drugs. For instance, if an anesthesiologist with a history of drug use is involved in an operation with complications, he might need to give a urine sample for drug testing. If the complications resulted in a law suit and the plaintiff’s lawyers find out about the drug history they would probably use this information to claim that the anesthesiologist was under the influence of drugs at the time of the mishap. In these circumstances, a drug test can be used to confirm that the anesthesiologist was not using drugs and this had no impact on his performance. This can protect him and his employer from possible legal action.

To Monitor Treatment

People who have previously tested positive to drugs and are undergoing rehabilitation will usually be required to provide urine samples to be tested as part of their treatment program. This is viewed as a necessary adjunct to the treatment. People using drugs often believe that they can use in a controlled way, but testing can detect this. It can help them to break their drug consumption habit. The majority of drug rehabilitation experts believe that testing is a useful way of monitoring the progress of drug addicts.