Drug testing is a kind of practice used by some employers as one of possible ways to safeguard their enterprises from failures due to drug-related poor performance. Today, drug testing is applied as part of specific employee education program aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse and helping those who have run into trouble or have just gotten out of it.
Why test employees?
Needless to say, any employer wants his or her business to work properly, and every decent employer strives to create a safe and comfortable environment for his or her staff. Drug and alcohol abuse is a grave danger for any project. Mainly, employers resort to drug testing to:
- Prevent hiring abusing individuals
- Identifying employees who appear to be dealing with drug/alcohol issues
- Create a safe working environment and maintain reputation
- Avoid violating laws and regulations
- Put employees off taking alcohol/drugs
How and when are employees tested for drugs?
There are several drug testing methods, which employers use. These include:
- Urine tests. A urine sample can reveal drug metabolites, which appear in a patient’s urine shortly after the use of a drug and may stay there for several days or even weeks.
- Blood tests. This method provides relatively accurate data on the amount of alcohol/drugs and time when an individual used it.
- Breath. An individual has to blow into a breath-alcohol device, which determines the level of alcohol in the blood.
- Sweat tests. A patch of testing material is attached to an individual’s skin and worn for a period of time. This method allows employers to check alcohol\drug levels in their employees’ sweat.
- Hair tests. This method is applicable for drug testing rather than for alcohol testing. However, it can reveal a more complete picture of an individual’s history of drug abuse, if any.
Drug tests can be organized in different ways, and each one can be applicable under particular circumstances. Many employers prefer to examine potential staff members applying for a job at their companies. In this case, an applicant should agree to pass such a test.
Also, employers initiate tests once they think they have good reasons to suspect their staff members in drug abuse. Mostly, they do so once they notice a sudden decrease in performance, frequent disability claims, inadequate behavior, etc.
Many employers set up random checks, so that abusing individuals, if any, have no chance to prepare themselves for it by stopping using drugs several days before being tested.
Drug testing is controversial, and there are two main reasons why it is. First, it raises a number of privacy issues. For example, passing a blood or urine test is one of the most private matters, and may require individuals to go through degrading procedures. Besides, these tests may disclose personal medical information in cases whereby individuals have to undergo treatment of chronic diseases (diabetes, depression, etc.) Second, these tests are not always reliable: they may reveal metabolites and traces of substances, which were taken weeks before the test, when their intoxicating effect is long gone.