What’s involved in employee drug testing?

Many people worry about taking a drug test. Even if you’ve never used an illegal drug or consumed anything stronger than iced tea, you may still feel anxious. Or you may worry that the aspirin you took yesterday is going to result in a positive test.

What’s the Process?

Most employers that conduct drug testing do so under very controlled conditions following federal testing guidelines or state laws regulating drug testing. This helps ensure the security and integrity of the sample provided by the candidate and that the sample being tested is not adulterated (tampered with) or mixed up.

Employers may use a variety of methods for drug testing. Among the most common employment-related drug tests are urine-based, though many employers have adopted hair, saliva, breath and other testing methods, as well.

The sample is normally tested and analyzed at certified laboratories that set cutoff levels designed to ensure accurate identification of drugs in the testing process, that can identify most of the popular adulterants a person might use to try and cover up drug use, and that can rule out passive exposure as a reasonable explanation for a positive result.

Today’s confirmation testing methods are very sophisticated in identifying the exact substance that is present in the drug screening specimen. As a further measure to assure accuracy and integrity of the drug screening process, employers may utilize the services of Medical Review Officers to afford donors an opportunity to provide legitimate medical explanations for any positive test results.

All these precautions are designed to help protect the donor and help alleviate concerns over their prescribed medication use and consumption of foods.

Subject to applicable law and the employer’s policies, an employment-related drug test may be performed prior to starting a new job.

Many employers also repeat their drug tests periodically or employ random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident drug testing programs as a way to deter drug use and keep their workplaces drug-free and/or to meet their regulatory requirements.

For example, for commercial driving positions regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, regular drug testing is required as a condition of employment.