Many companies conduct drug screenings as a part of their hiring process, especially in safety-sensitive industries. A job offer is often contingent upon passing a drug test, so you should know about these screenings beforehand.
Companies can screen for various drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines, PCP, and opiates. A urinalysis is the most used sort of drug test.
Drug testing is a standard part of the hiring process, especially for jobs that require safety-sensitive work like piloting planes, operating heavy machinery, and providing patient care. Using illegal drugs can put others at risk and lead to decreased productivity, accidents, and even loss of life. For these reasons, companies often make job offers conditional on passing a drug test.
The most common way to perform a pre-employment drug test is with a urinalysis. It involves a physical examination of the urine, chemical evaluation with urine test strips, and microscopic examination. A urinalysis can detect several types of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and prescription medications. It can also see other medical conditions such as bladder disease, blood disorders, and kidney stones.
A urinalysis can also detect the presence of sugar and other metabolites that may indicate diabetes or excessive bodily fluids. It can also identify red blood cells, skin cells, crystals, and parasites in the urine.
A urinalysis can be conducted at an employer’s site or in a laboratory specializing in this type of screening. Other forms of employment drug testing include blood tests, breathalyzers, mouth swabs, and hair tests. A blood test can provide more information about recent drug use, but it is more expensive and invasive than a urine test. A saliva test is less expensive and can give results in minutes.
The exact list of substances companies can try for varies, and the tests themselves are typically taken at an offsite laboratory. For some jobs, particularly ones in the public safety or transportation industries, a company might test candidates for specific illicit drugs. The screenings are often conducted after an employer extends a conditional offer of employment.
These are known as blood tests. They can detect a wide range of illegal drugs, and the lab technicians will also work with the MRO to check the chain of custody to ensure that the results don’t have any contaminating factors. The MRO can also check for any current prescriptions you might be taking that could explain a positive outcome, such as benzodiazepines or opiates.
A person might be able to refuse a blood test for privacy or personal health, in which the lab will keep the sample and retest it. Many companies conduct random testing on a scheduled basis or based on reasonable suspicion in addition to pre-employment drug tests. All employees must sign a consent form allowing their employer to see their test results.
Unlike urine tests, which can only detect drug use within a three-day window, hair tests can detect the presence of drugs in a person’s system up to 90 days before the test. It is because drugs and their metabolites travel through the bloodstream and become a part of the hair cells. To conduct a hair drug test, a lab technician will collect 100 strands of an employee or applicant’s hair near the scalp and send them to a lab for testing.
Hair drug test results are difficult to interpret, and it can be challenging to distinguish low-level or one-time use from long-term or chronic drug abuse. It’s also important to note that prescription medications can affect the results of a hair test, so it’s a good idea to bring your medical records to your interview or drug screening.
Hair and urine tests are the most common drug screening methods, but there are other tests, such as breathalyzers, mouth swabs, and blood tests. Employers can choose what drugs to test for, and it’s up to each company to decide whether they want to include marijuana on their list of banned substances, considering the decriminalization of marijuana in some states. It’s essential to remember that federal law prohibits employers from single out applicants or employees for drug testing based on their sex, race, ethnicity, or religion, and it may be illegal to ask for a pre-employment urine test in some circumstances.
A mouth swab drug test, also known as an oral fluid or saliva drug test, checks for recent use of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and some prescription drugs like opiates. These tests are usually administered by a third-party administrator and conducted in a private room with supervision, making it difficult for an employee to cheat the test. This drug test is also swift to administer, and results are returned more quickly than a urine sample.
Mouth swab tests collect metabolites, or chemical byproducts of the body breaking down drugs, from the saliva. These metabolites can be detected for up to 48 hours after consumption of the drug in the body. Like hair and urine tests, mouth swab tests can be used with other pre-employment drug testing, including urinalysis and blood tests.
Companies conduct drug tests on employees because drug use can seriously affect job performance, safety, and morale, not to mention potentially putting people’s lives at risk. It can help reduce the number of days employees miss work due to substance abuse and make them more productive. Employers are often required by law to drug test current and prospective employees in certain occupations. They may also test employees on a random basis.