Drug Testing In Workplace

Drug testing as a form of employee managment is both ineffective and costly.

In the work place today the drug test is being used as the "make or break" benchmark for a final decision on employment. Employers are under the impression that a drug test is an easy way to weed out undesirable and incompetent workers simply through whether or not they are able to pass a urinalysis test. There are several things that are wrong with this premise. Employers fail to account for false positives, over the counter adulterants and most of all drug durations. All of these can lead to either a wholly qualified candidate being overlooked or a savvy drug user being hired - in either case the what the employer claims to be his/her goal through the drug test is compromised and the test is rendered ineffective.

Several things can lead to a false positive in a urinalysis test. Chief among these is diet. Poppy seeds can lead to a person who might never have even seen any illicit drug - save on their favorite episode of American Justice on A&E - to testing positive for opiates. The chemical composition of the seed mimics that of the illicit drug. This is evidenced by the fact that airline crews, who are repeatedly tested for drug use, are advised not to eat food containing poppy seed because of the possibility of the false positive. If a person were to eat a perfectly legal poppy seed cake over the span of one week on the eighth day that person would test positive for significant amounts of codeine and/or morphine simply because of his/her love of cake. Today there is an ever-increasing tendency to adopt a "natural" diet - this is evidenced by the many new "holistic" products one may find in the local grocery. Many of these products contain oils that are derived from hemp plants and other botanicals which are perfectly legal to use yet in a urinalysis will produce a positive testing for the use of drugs ranging from marijuana to opiates.

With so much riding on the drug test today it isn't surprising that many industrious people have started a cottage industry dealing in test adulterants. The only thing that a frequent user of illicit drugs must do to test negative is abstain for one to two days before the test, ingest the adulterant and drink enough water to urinate at the test site. These products can be purchased at any grocery store or through many site on the web. More often than not these adulterants are billed as "herbal cleansers" or "body toxin removers". Testing sites are now actively testing for only one of the most widely used adulterant - creatine. Creatine is used in about 80% of all over the counter adulterants but as the testing agencies become wise to the chemicals used to pervert the outcomes of their tests so too do the manufacturers become wise to the fact that there product is no longer as effective and thus changes are made and the game continues.

The final and probably the most important factor in highlighting the ineffectiveness of urinalysis is drug duration or the time that a drug after it's use stays in the body. When given a list of illicit drugs and legal drugs one can get an idea of how inaccurate a urine test can be in locating potentially problematic workers. Heroin is regarded as the most illicit drug in the workplace today. Heroin is passed through the urine in the body of habitual users, habitual meaning daily users, for three to five days. Cocaine is passed through the urine of habitual users in three to five days. Alcohol is passed through the urine in twelve to twenty-four hours. Marijuana stays in the body, depending on body fat, for thirty to fifty days. All this adds up to the fact that in reality the only thing that a drug urinalysis can accurately show is that a person is either a daily user - a fact that should be rather obvious given these types of drugs and their effects - or that a person has smoked marijuana at some time in the past month to month and a half. This is hardly the kind of accuracy that is touted by the testing companies or the employers that use the tests as some sort of grand and unimpeachable tool to make their workplace the best it can be.

From perfectly legal foods to the fact that more often than not the most illicit drugs simply do not stay in the system long enough to give an accurate reading of a persons particular habit -save only the most dire and daily users - the drug test is for all intents and purposes is a failure. Given the fact that the test is given at a time when the candidate for employment knows the day and time the test is to be given and can make plans to counter the accurate reading of said test isn't it a forgone conclusion from this that the test is indeed worthless. Urinalysis is a bad way to "clean up" a work place because the fact is too much is being put on the outcome of these tests and too little is being put into the thought behind the tests. These tests are not a panacea like many Human Resources directors would have their superiors believe. In reality they are just another way to needlessly spend money which could be allocated for something else.

© Demand Media 2011