How Does A Drug Test Determine If A Person Has Been Using

How does a drug test determine if a person has been using?

How Does A Drug Test Determine If A Person Has Been Using?

How does a drug test determine if a person has been using substances?  What are cut-off levels and what do they determine?

Aside from a breath alcohol test, drug testing does not determine impairment or current drug use.  Rather, drug testing determines a specified amount or presence of a drug or its metabolite in urine, blood or an alternative specimen. 

There is a minimum measurement applied to drug testing so that only traces of a drug or its metabolite above a specified level is reported as positive.  This measure is known as a “cut-off level,” and it varies for each drug.  Setting cut-off levels involves understanding the expected results of testing and determining the needs of the employer’s drug-free workplace program. 

For instance, if a cut-off level is set low, test results will come back with more “false positives” as some “passive” users could test positive.  (For example, a low cut-off level could cause a positive result from consuming poppy seeds.) 

Conversely, a high cut-off level will result in more “false negatives,” and thus some users may go undetected.  However, a high cut-off level lessens the likelihood of taking action against someone based on “passive” exposure. 

Other considerations when implementing drug testing

Who pays for a drug test?  Does an employee have to be paid for time spent having a drug test?

An employer normally pays for a drug test.  Also, time spent having a required drug test is generally considered hours worked

Is drug testing legal? 

In most cases it is legal for employers to test employees for drugs.  No laws prohibit the practice.  However, there are several situations that restrict or question an employer’s ability to randomly drug test employees who are not in safety-sensitive positions. 

Thus, it is very important that employers familiarize themselves with the various laws and regulations that may apply to their organization before implementing a drug-testing program. 

Furthermore, under certain circumstances, someone with a history of alcoholism or drug addiction may be considered a qualified individual with a disability.

As a result, testing for alcohol without individualized suspicions (e.g. pre-employment or random) is not allowable.

How does one start a drug-testing program?

Drug testing is only one component of a comprehensive drug-free workplace program, which also includes a written policy that clearly outlines employer expectations regarding drug use; training for supervisors on the signs and symptoms of drug use and their role in enforcing the policy; education for employees about the dangers of drug use; and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide counseling and referral to employees struggling with drug problems. 

We provide advice to help employers develop customized drug-free workplace policies (that may or may not including drug testing) by reviewing the different components of a comprehensive policy and then generating a written policy statement based on the user’s responses to pre-set questions and statements.  (An organization’s name and logo can be incorporated and further modifications to the statement made if desired.) 

If an organization already has a drug-free workplace policy in place, you can contact us to conduct an audit and see if it addresses all necessary issues.

Because it is important to understand and incorporate the various laws and regulations that may apply, it is also recommended that legal consultation be sought before commencing a drug-testing program.

A comprehensive drug-free workplace program contributes to a workplace free of the health, safety and productivity hazards caused by employees’ abuse of alcohol or drugs. 

By educating employees about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and encouraging individuals with related problems to seek help, employers can protect their businesses from such dangers, retain valuable employees and help play a part in making communities safer and healthier.

Contact Objective Health

Get in touch with Objective Health to see how we can help your business with its Workplace Drug Testing.

Objective Health provides all forms of drug testing services, including the revolutionary Fingerprint Drug Testing, a clean, fast, hygienic, affordable and portable drug-testing system. Call us on 0191 4862425 to arrange a free demonstration or send us a message online and we will call you back.

You can also download a copy of our Fingerprint Drug Testing Guide here for more information.

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