Drug testing before hiring a new employee is common today. In many cases, a job offer is contingent on passing such a test. These tests are conducted to see if the potential employee has any illicit substances in their bodies. Sometimes these tests are also performed before an employee returns to work after they’ve been absent for a while. 

Most of today’s drug tests screen for the following drugs:

  • Methamphetamine (e.g. meth, ecstasy, crank, speed)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates (e.g. heroin, morphine, opium, codeine)
  • PCP

However, they can also screen for other drugs as well.

Why Pre-Employment Drug Testing Is Required

One of the most important issues for businesses is workplace safety. By conducting pre-employment screenings, they can mitigate any risks that may be associated with the misuse of drugs. When an employer indicates on the application that a job offer is contingent on the test’s results they can deter abusers from applying for the job in the first place. This is especially important when a job places someone in a safety-sensitive environment. Testing will then reduce the number of expensive workers’ compensation claims that are made because drugs or alcohol have been abused.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that drug use is responsible for a five-fold increase in the number of workplace injury claims that are made. This means that about 50% of workers’ compensation claims are due to drug or alcohol abuse. When you stop to consider this information, you see why it’s so important for employers to have a drug-free workplace.

The Most Common Drug Test

When testing for drugs most employees will use a urinalysis. This will show if there’s any drug residue present after the drug’s effects have worn off. Urinalysis can detect any of the drugs listed above. Many companies require this type of testing as a part of their pre-employment screening. Sometimes, a company will also require their employees to randomly submit to these screenings.

Types of Urine Drug Tests

Two different types of urinalysis can screen for drugs. The immunoassay is the most common. It’s the most cost-effective and will provide you with the results the fastest. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pick up on all of the opioids and sometimes it will give a false positive, meaning that it will detect drug use when there is none.

Urinalysis results will be provided in terms of positive and negative. Most tests do not provide a numeric value such as a ng/mL measurement. The test results simply appear on a test strip that turns different colors based on drug presence or absence.

If you do get a positive result for illegal drugs that you haven’t taken, make sure you immediately request the second type of urinalysis, which is the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test. You should also ask to speak with the medical review officer (MRO). The MRO is the physician who’s responsible for interpreting and reporting the drug test’s results. The GC/MS test uses the same process as the immunoassay but is more expensive and takes longer. It is rare for this test to produce a false positive but it can produce a false negative, especially when the drugs were used on the same day as the test was administered.

To learn more about pre-employment urine drug testing, check out Soteria Screening Laboratories for more information.

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