What To Know Before Your Drug Test


When many people are on the verge of landing a job, they are asked to take a drug test to confirm they are not using any illegal substances. While most people take this for granted, the fact is there are many things associated with drug testing that can play an important role in landing a job or perhaps even avoiding arrest for drug charges. If you have taken drug tests in the past or anticipate doing so in the future, here are some interesting facts you should keep in mind before your next drug test.

There are Many Different Types of Tests

When people think of drug tests, they automatically assume they will be providing a urine sample that will be checked for traces of drugs or alcohol. While this is usually the most common type of drug test administered, it is important to note it is not the only type of drug test available to employers, law enforcement, and others. In fact, other methods that are used include breathalyzer tests to check blood alcohol levels, blood tests, mouth swabs, and even hair testing that can check for traces of cocaine and other drugs.

Most Employers are Not Required to Do Drug Testing

Surprisingly to most people, the vast majority of employers are not required to give their employees drug tests as a basis for employment. The exception to this is transportation companies and those agencies regulated by the federal government, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, or Federal Highway Administration. As to why most employers choose to do drug testing on their employees, the two biggest reasons are to avoid legal liability and ensure the workplace is as productive as possible. With regards to legal liability, if an employee who is intoxicated or high on drugs injures or kills someone, a company could face significant liability issues. In addition to this, studies have shown employees who abuse drugs or alcohol are more than three times likely to be consistently late for work or involved in a workplace accident.

Drugs Can Be In Your System for Weeks

Since most employers and other agencies and organizations will not tell you exactly when your drug test will be administered, it may be possible your body will still have traces of various substances in your bloodstream for possibly several weeks. For example, if you use marijuana on a regular basis, it may show up on a drug test for several weeks after you last used the substance. However, if you drank alcohol recently, it will likely stay in your system for no more than 48 hours, and in some cases as little as 12 hours. For most other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and meth, the time frame is usually 48-72 hours. Therefore, to be absolutely sure you pass a drug test, it is best to simply not use any of these substances.

Employers Can Use Discretion

In almost all cases involving drug testing, employers can use various levels of discretion. For example, if you receive a positive drug test, you can ask for a repeat test, and in most states employers are required to do so. However, when an issue involves medical marijuana, employers can also make various decisions. Since not all states have legalized the use of marijuana, including that used for medical purposes, it is often left up to individual employers as to whether a positive test in this area will disqualify a person from employment. Because of this, if you have been prescribed marijuana for medical purposes, it is best to let your employer know this from the beginning to avoid future misunderstandings.

Because there are so many complexities involved in the area of drug testing, it is important to know as much as possible before taking your test. Whether it involves knowing how long various substances stay in your system, the type of drug test that will be administered, or even if you are legally required to take a drug test, these and other factors can play an important role in how a situation will play out.


About Author

Kelly is DailyU’s lead blogger. She writes on a variety of topics and does not limit her creativity. Her passion in life is to write informative articles to help people in various life stages.

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