Why do employers test their employees for drug abuse?

Why do employers test their employees for drug abuse?

Alcohol and drug abuse creates significant safety and health hazards and can result in decreased productivity and poor employee morale.

drug abuse

Common reasons employers implement drug testing are to:

  • Deter employees from abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Prevent hiring individuals who use illegal drugs
  • Be able to identify early and appropriately refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems
  • Provide a safe workplace for employees
  • Protect the general public and instill consumer confidence that employees are working safely

Drugs of Abuse Testing usually checks for five illicit drugs which are: 

  1. Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy)
  2. THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)
  3. Cocaine (coke, crack)
  4. Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)

drugs of abuse

Testing is also available for

  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital, butalbital, secobarbital, downers)
  • Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers like Valium, Librium, Xanax)
  • Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
  • Methadone (often used to treat heroin addiction)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds)

Testing can also be done for:

  • Hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms, mescaline, peyote)
  • Inhalants (paint, glue, hairspray)
  • Anabolic steroids (synthesized, muscle-building hormones)
  • Hydrocodone (prescription medication known as Lortab,Vicodin, Oxycodone)
  • MDMA ( commonly known as Ecstasy)

How is the testing done?

The most common method of drug testing is by testing a urine sample. An employee or applicant provides a sample to be tested.  Usually precautions are taken, such as putting blue dye in the toilet and turning off the water supply, to prevent adulteration or substitution of specimens so that collection can be completed in privacy without any direct visual observation by another person.

How long are drugs in one’s system?

Drugs have certain “detection windows”—the amount of time after ingestion during which evidence of their use can be detected by a drug test.

The following are estimates of the length of time that certain drugs are detectable:

1)      Alcohol – 1 oz. for 1.5 hours

2)     Amphetamines – 48 hours

3)     Barbiturates – 2-10 days

4)      Benzodiazepines – 2-3 weeks

5)      Cocaine – 2-10 days

6)      Heroin Metabolite – less than 1 day

7)      Morphine – 2-3 days

8)      LSD – 8 hours

9)      Marijuana – casual use, 3-4 days; chronic use, several weeks

10)      Methamphetamine – 2-3 days

11)      Methadone – 2-3 days

12)      Phencyclidine (PCP) – 1 week