What is a Drug Test?
A drug test is a standardized procedure involving the collection of blood, hair, saliva, sweat, or urine specimen(s) to identify the presence of drug metabolites in the users system. Testing can identify the presence of a wide variety of substances including amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana, opioids, phencyclidine (PCP), and steroids.
In most cases, alcohol and drug testing is a preventative measure in deterring substance abuse from entering the workplace based on health and safety guidelines that underscore a drug-free environment. A urine drug test is the most common form of drug testing available due to its convenience, low cost, and quick delivery of results. Other drug testing variations include blood alcohol tests, breath alcohol tests, hair drug tests, and mouth swab drug and alcohol tests.
Although drug testing serves as a deterrent to illicit substance abuse, many individuals who take prescribed medication may also test positive since the residual drug metabolites in their system exceed the cutoff threshold for clearance. It is vital to inform the Medical Review Officer along with a prospective employer of any prescription(s) that might lead to test anomalies after the fact, potentially compromising employment opportunities. While companies have a responsibility to adopt and maintain health and safety standards, applicants and employees must communicate with their employers about their medical history as a means of sidestepping liabilities including discrimination or disability violations.
Employers must exercise discretionary judgment in applying pre-employment screening and random drug screening to ensure a drug-free workforce. Employers should take precautionary measures by referring applicants or employees for confirmatory testing at a laboratory to correlate original test findings to arrive at a definitive negative or positive test result. As an example, a safety-sensitive position that involves operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) requires consistent drug testing to minimize or prevent the incidence rate for accidents or injuries.