Drug Testing – What You Need to Know

drug testing - New Life Medical Addiction Services

Drug testing, especially in work-place environments, is of concern to many people who contact us at New Life Medical Addiction Services. Before we discuss the subject of drug testing in the workplace, we encourage people who have concerns about their own drug use or that of a loved one to contact us. Our out-patient treatment for substance abuse can eliminate the fear of a looming workplace drug test.

Drug testing is designed to identify the use and presence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or certain prescription drugs that are being misused by an employee. Because of this, it is implemented to be both a deterrent and a preventive step that is part of the drive at many companies to create a drug-free workplace.

Please note that a workplace drug testing regime needs to be in accordance with any and all applicable laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal level.

How Drug Testing is Conducted

Drug tests are often conducted by specially trained personnel who either travel to places of work to collect samples directly from employees or at certified collection centers that the employee visits to give their sample. It is important to note that all collected samples are tightly controlled so as to retain the specimen’s chain of custody, which proves that a given sample is from a particular person. This routine is very strict and cannot and should not be circumvented.

If your organization has a drug testing protocol in place or is asking you for a sample, you need to understand the policies surrounding this and to make sure that your confidentiality is being protected throughout the process.

Furthermore, if your organization is asking you for a sample and you are abusing substances, it is important to understand how the results of a drug test would ultimately be used to determine a course of treatment and the implications of that on your future employment.

Types of Drug Tests

Drug tests can vary considerably and depend on the types of drugs are being tested for and the samples that are collected. Hair, saliva, urine, and samples of a person’s sweat can all be used as test specimens.

Urine samples are currently the only option in federally regulated workplaces; however the Secretary of Health and Human Service has released proposed guidelines for the inclusion of oral fluid specimens.

Tests are commonly used for these categories of drugs:

  • Opioids & Opioid-Related Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Benzodiazepines

Drug testing can be employed in the following circumstances:

Pre-employment Testing

Employers are allowed to require passing a drug test as a condition of employment. In circumstances like this, all job candidates will receive drug testing prior to being on-boarded.

Annual Physicals

Employers can test their employees for drug and alcohol and use as part of an annual physical examination. Failure to provide prior notification of an upcoming drug test is a violation of an employee’s constitutional rights.

For-cause and Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Employers can test employees who show signs of being unfit for work (for-cause testing), or who have a documented pattern of unsafe work behavior (reasonable suspicion testing.) These preventative tests are designed to protect the safety and wellbeing of the employee and their coworkers.

Post-Accident Testing

Testing employees involved in unsafe work habits or a workplace accident are used to determine if drug or alcohol use was a contributing factor to the incident.

Post-treatment Testing

Testing employees who return to work after completing a rehabilitation program is common and is used to encourage them to remain drug or alcohol free.

Test Results

In order to ensure the accuracy of drug testing, companies will engage with a HHS-certified laboratory to test the specimens and a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to interpret the test.

MROs are licensed physicians who receive laboratory results and have knowledge of substance use disorders and federal drug-testing regulations. MROs are trained to interpret and evaluate test results together with the employee’s medical history and other relevant information.

It is important to note that a negative drug or alcohol test result does not indicate to an employer that an employee has never used alcohol or illicit drugs. However, a positive one can have an impact on your career.

If you have a substance use problem and want to avoid the implications that an employer drug test could have on your career, contact the doctors and staff at New Life Medical Addiction Services today. We can help! To speak to someone at New Life, call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

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