Congratulations! You received an offer for employment. The company you will be working for requires drug testing. Think it’s a waste of time? Don’t agree with it and want to opt out? Afraid you’ll be testing positive for that poppy-seed covered bagel you ate last week? Chances are the stories you’ve heard that cast the process in a negative light came from a source that wasn’t happy with some results. It’s time to put to rest some of the myths surrounding drug testing.
Do I have to do it?
Yeah...you do. Oh, you can refuse alright, but companies have the legal right to require it, provided the company follows the laws set by the federal government and the state. That’s not just for jobs that involve transportation or heavy machinery (but especially in those cases). Sure, there’s a chance that the company didn’t properly set up the program, but you still won’t be able to take the job if you’ve been using. Your option is to refuse the job offer and find somewhere that won’t test.
Can I cheat?
People have cheated, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get away with it. Some methods that make the must-try list are drinking lots of water to flush toxins, adding chemicals to clean the urine, exercising and sweating it out, using diuretics and “detox” products, but tests have improved and so have the processes for collection. What may have worked once upon a time is not going to work now. Red flags simply mean retesting. There isn’t an acceptable level you’re trying to achieve—it’s there or it isn’t and if the specimen is diluted or shows sign of tampering, you’ll be back providing another sample.
What about false positive results?
If you don’t disclose prescribed medications, you may be taking an antibiotic that can trigger a positive result. If they know about it, it won’t matter. Did you eat unwashed poppy seed bagels (almost all bakeries used washed seeds) and eat a batch? It still doesn’t matter. After the test, there is a confirmation procedure. It can tell the difference between Ibuprofen and pot, amphetamines and Sudafed, cocaine and Amoxicillin, opiates and Tylenol with codeine, poppy seeds and opiates and other medications that might flag an otherwise “clean” sample. Request a second test if you wish, but if you’re not really using, you won’t have to worry.
This violates my privacy!
As stated earlier, companies have the right to test. It’s already been established that they can test as long as the procedure follows state and federal laws placing limitations of how the information from drug tests will be used, how the tests will be conducted and why. It might be helpful to think of employment as a contract. You don’t have a right to a job anywhere you wish. You are requesting someone else hire you and conversely, the business requests your work in exchange for pay. In order to set up that contract, they simply follow the labor law and make accommodations according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can refuse to participate in drug testing, but you risk not getting the job if you do.
What about trust issues?
Not caring whether employees use drugs is not a “good thing” and it does matter if people use at home, because it always—ALWAYS—affects work, even if some handle drug use more ably than others. Employers are looking for the best employees and want a safe and productive environment for all. “I don’t have a problem” is how every drug user starts before ending up having a problem. Employers should not—and do not—have to take that chance with their business. They CAN, if they wish, but most will not.
Isn’t it all just a waste of time and effort?
Drug testing allows employers to understand their employees better and provide the support they need. Transportation agencies often use drug testing for their workers to determine who is not eligible for certain positions. Security companies use drug testing to ensure that their employees can act quickly in a hazardous situation. Do you like the idea of a person using marijuana within 12 hours of toppling a building? Do you want a person with alcohol in their system driving you to work? Would you get in a cab if the driver was high? Someone who enjoys taking risks with harmful drugs is the same kind of person who will take risks at work. It is not a waste of time. It doesn’t matter if a few people could actually use drugs and function at an acceptable level. Laws protect people so that they don’t have to worry that they’re working with one that can’t.