Pros, Cons, & Effectiveness of Drug Testing in the Workplace | Checkr Blog (2023)

Wondering about drug testing in the workplace? Modern advances in medical technology provide the ability to test for drug use in the workplace and determine whether an employee has recently taken a drug. In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about drug testing in the workplace, pros and cons, and more.

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What is workplace drug testing?

Workplace drug testing is one method employers can use to figure out if job applicants or employees use drugs, including prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol. Drug testing tends to work well when the drug testing policy is clear and shared with all of your employees, along with information about drug and alcohol abuse, education and training of supervisors about the symptoms and signs of drug and alcohol abuse, and an employee assistance program that helps employees who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to health and safety hazards in the workplace, as well as reduced morale and productivity among employees. It can also lead to extra costs for your company in the form of short-term disability claims and other healthcare claims. Employers tend to drug test in the workplace for the following reasons:

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  • Prevent hiring employees that use illicit drugs
  • Offer a safe and healthy workplace for all employees
  • Identify and help employees with alcohol and drug problems
  • Protect the general public
  • Keep employees from abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Comply with federal regulations and state laws

What are the pros and cons of drug testing in the workplace?

There are a number of pros and cons of drug testing in the workplace. For example, the benefits of drug testing in the workplace include:

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  • Encourage increased responsibility among employees. Workplace drug testing leads to increased responsibility among employees, especially those who might otherwise work under the influence of drugs and alcohol and cause harm to not only themselves but their colleagues, customers, and the general public as well.
  • Identify employees who need help. Workplace drug testing also identifies workers who have drug and alcohol problems and need outside help. People struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol may not seek help right away, but drug testing can help identify workers with issues rather than relying on self-reporting. Employers can then help these employees by assisting them in the form of a rehabilitative program.
  • Enhance the health and safety of the workplace. Workplace drug testing helps improve the health and safety of the workplace by deterring people who might otherwise regularly use alcohol or experiment with illicit drugs. Drug testing helps discourage these employees from abusing drugs, which can help curb health problems and decrease the risk of injuries or accidents in the workplace.

Some disadvantages of drug testing in the workplace include:

  • Random drug testing is not done in real time. Random drug tests simply let employers know that an employee used a specific drug sometime in the past, but there is typically a wide time frame. This isn’t always helpful, as the main priority of drug testing is to discourage intoxication while employees are working.
  • Drug testing is not a safety measure. Because workplace drug tests don’t measure drug use in real time, they also can’t truly be used as a safety measure. Many job candidates simply take a break from using drugs when they know they have a drug screen.
  • Drug testing is not always accurate. There are often false positives on drug tests, as specific foods and medications can show up as illicit substances.
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What is the effectiveness of drug testing in the workplace?

Urinalysis is the most common form of drug testing and is considered highly accurate and effective. This method can be done at a doctor’s office, a workplace health unit, or another location chosen by the employer. The worker or job applicant gives a urine sample to be tested and it’s sent to a certified laboratory. There are typically several procedures required to ensure the testing process is as valid and accurate as possible.

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Should drug testing be mandatory?

Workplace drug testing usually provides an accurate and objective method of determining if a worker or applicant uses drugs or alcohol. That being said, if drug testing is mandatory for employees and applicants, there should be a few basic ethical principles put in place to protect the rights of the workers, including:

  • Informed consent. The worker should know before taking the job that abstinence from drugs or alcohol is expected, and workplace drug testing will occur at some point. That way, the employee can consent to drug testing in an informed way.
  • Confidentiality. The worker’s privacy should also be respected. This means that the result and consequences of the drug testing should be kept private from other employees.
  • Setting reasonable expectations. The worker’s ability to deal with stressful work experiences should be considered during the interview process. For example, some jobs include exposure to stressful or traumatic experiences, including extended screen time, excessively long or changeable shifts, large numbers of demanding customers or clients, and caring for sick or dying individuals. Ensure the employee understands the requirements and is prepared for such situations.
  • Defending a positive test. When a workplace drug test comes back positive, there should be repeat tests conducted. The worker should also have the chance to explain a positive drug test result before consequences are considered.
  • Getting help. In the case of a positive drug test, the employer should offer rehab or addiction counseling as options.
  • Support. The employer should also provide support and provide options like transitioning to a more suitable role if needed.
  • Justification. The employer should clearly justify the need for workplace drug testing. The employee or job applicant’s drug use should be seen as relevant to their role and responsibilities.

If you want to learn more about drug testing in the workplace, look no further than Checkr. Contact us to learn more about our services and employee drug testing at work.

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What are the benefits of drug testing in the workplace? ›

  • Reduced employee healthcare costs.
  • Improvements in employee morale, productivity, and performance.
  • Decreased absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft.
  • Compliance with state or federal regulations.
  • Being able to identify and refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems.

Why drug testing should not be allowed in the workplace? ›

Drug testing suffers from accuracy problems, requires that the vast majority of innocent employees prove their innocence, and can have negative effects on employee morale.

What is the problem with drug testing? ›

In some cases, a drug used days earlier will still register on the test. (Marijuana can be detected for as long as a month or more after use.) Furthermore, the results of drug tests are notoriously unreliable. Even under the most ideal conditions, 1000 of every 100,000 samples taken will give erroneous results.

What is a major limitation of drug testing? ›

Common limitations of drug tests, regardless of provider, include state regulations, ongoing changes to federal and state drug legislation, and general human intervention.

What is the value of drug testing? ›

The purpose of a drug test is to look for drug use and misuse, which includes: Using any illegal drugs, such as cocaine or club drugs. Misusing prescription medicines, which means taking prescription medicines in a different way or for a different purpose than your provider prescribed.

What are the benefits of a drug free workplace? ›

Benefits from implementing a drug-free workplace program include lower absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced workers' compensation filings, and fewer accidents. More discrete savings include improved employee morale, creativity and emotional stability.

Does an employer have the right to drug test? ›

Drug testing and your rights

Your employer may decide to test employees for drugs. To do this, however, they need the agreement of employees. This should normally be given where your employer has grounds for testing you under a full contractual occupational health and safety policy.

Why is random drug testing good? ›

Random Drug Testing deters drug use and ensures a sober workforce without singling out specific employees. Detecting drug use among employees is nearly impossible. Once the signs are obvious, it's often too late because obvious signs generally include accidents or injury.

What happens if you refuse a drug test at work? ›

An employee can refuse a drug test at work, although where there is prior contractual agreement to undergo drug-testing in the workplace, anyone who refuses to undergo a test may then face disciplinary action, or even dismissal, as a result.

Is it Unethical to test for drugs? ›

It is unethical to drug test for any other reason besides supporting recovery. High frequency of testing, applying clinical protocols in a non-clinical facility, and utilizing drug testing as a source of revenue generation might all be indicators of unethical drug testing.

What is the most common drug test for employment? ›

Urinalysis – A urine test is the most common form of pre-employment drug testing and is typically conducted once a conditional offer of employment has been sent. A urine test can show traces of drug use even after the effects of the drug have worn off and remain in the body for an extended period of time.

What is the impact of substance abuse in the workplace? ›

Substance Misuse and Problems in the Workplace

A loss of productivity and job performance. Workplace accidents and injuries. Employee absenteeism. High turnover.

Does Delta 8 show up on drug tests? ›

Delta-8 THC is a chemical found in cannabis with similar effects to traditional (delta-9) THC. Because delta-8 THC is similar to delta-9 THC, it can make you feel high and is likely to show up on a drug test.

What are 2 major concerns with current drug testing? ›

Limitations include: not all drugs can be tested for. New drugs get created frequently, and until they are created tests cannot be developed for them. testing exposes the athlete (nudity) before the tester.

What three factors are drugs tested for? ›

New medical drugs have to be tested and trialled before being used to check that they are safe and effective. New drugs are extensively tested for toxicity, efficacy and dose.

What are the three types of drug tests? ›

  • Urine Testing.
  • Oral Fluid Testing.
  • Synthetics Testing.

What percent of drug tests are inaccurate? ›

A worry for anyone undergoing an illicit drug screen - whether it be a urine, hair, saliva or blood test - is the possibility of a false positive drug test. In fact, some data suggests 5 to 10 percent of all drug tests may result in false positives and 10 to 15 percent may yield false negatives.

What is the gold standard for drug testing? ›

The most sophisticated drug-testing approach is gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS), which is regarded as a "gold standard"; it is used in confirmatory testing.

What percentage of drug tests are positive? ›

The overall positivity rate in the combined U.S. workforce, based on nearly nine million urine drug tests collected between January and December 2021, was up in 2021 to 4.6% compared to 4.4% in 2020 and up 31.4 percent from the all-time low of 3.5% just 10 years ago (2010-2012).

What are the good benefits of drugs? ›

The benefits of medicines are the helpful effects you get when you use them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing infection, or relieving pain. The risks of medicines are the chances that something unwanted or unexpected could happen to you when you use them.

How do you ensure a drug free workplace? ›

How to Enforce a Drug Free Workplace Program
  1. Draft a Written Policy. ...
  2. Train Supervisors. ...
  3. Educate Employees. ...
  4. Provide Information for Employees to Get Help. ...
  5. Perform Drug Tests. ...
  6. Provide Feedback on the Status of the Program. ...
  7. Inform Prospective Employees About Drug-Free Policies Right Away.
Mar 6, 2020

Are drug prevention programs effective? ›

Prevention is Proven and Cost-Effective Evidence-based prevention programs can dramatically reduce rates of substance use and SUD. Dozens of programs have been found to significantly reduce substance use, some by over 50 percent.

How far back does a lab urine test go? ›

What is the detection window for a lab-based, urine drug test? A: Urine drug testing typically detects recent drug use in the previous 24 to 72 hours.

How do you introduce drug testing at work? ›

An employee's consent in writing should always be obtained prior to any drug testing.
  1. Only use drug testing where this provides significantly better evidence of impairment than other less intrusive means.
  2. Employers should be transparent with employees regarding the drugs/substances they are being tested for.
Jul 21, 2022

What's the first stage of drug testing? ›

The first stage is preclinical testing and involves computer modelling and testing outside of the body in vitro. This stage aims to make sure that the drug is safe and effective before introducing it into animals or humans. The first stage of clinical testing of a drug on humans uses a very low dose.

What is the most accurate form of drug test? ›

Blood testing is expensive and invasive, but is the most reliable for determining if the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol right now. Hair testing has the longest detection window, nearly 90 days, and is the least invasive method of all, but also has the highest cost.

Does ibuprofen show up in urine drug test? ›

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have also been shown to interact with UDS immunoassays. Both ibuprofen and naproxen have been documented to cause false-positive barbiturate4 and cannabinoid1-4 levels. In addition, ibuprofen can cause a false-positive PCP level.

What is zero tolerance drug policy workplace? ›

Zero tolerance means that employers will not tolerate drug use or impairment at any level for these employees. Employers also may lawfully implement zero tolerance policies and prohibit possession, use, impairment or distribution in the workplace.

How long does it take to get drug test results for employment? ›

Drug test results typically take 24 to 48 hours, depending on the type of test being performed (e.g., urine, hair or DOT).

Is it worse to fail a drug test or refuse? ›

Your refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test is generally equivalent to testing positive to a drug or alcohol test.

What is considered an unethical test? ›

Unethical human experimentation is human experimentation that violates the principles of medical ethics. Such practices have included denying patients the right to informed consent, using pseudoscientific frameworks such as race science, and torturing people under the guise of research.

Does the FDA actually test drugs? ›

The mission of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is to ensure that drugs marketed in this country are safe and effective. CDER does not test drugs, although the Center's Office of Testing and Research does conduct limited research in the areas of drug quality, safety, and effectiveness.

What is falsification of a drug test? ›

The law states, “A person commits the crime of falsifying drug test results if the person intentionally uses, or possesses with intent to use, any substance or device designed to falsify the results of a drug test of the person.”

How often do most employers drug test? ›

1. How often are random drug tests done? Random drug tests are typically conducted once per quarter on a randomly selected day with randomly chosen employees.

How far back does a 10 panel urine test go? ›

A 10-panel drug test is one of many screenings employers can use to detect prescription or illicit drugs.
How Far Back Does A 10-panel Urine Test Go?
SubstanceDetection Time Frame
Amphetamines48 hours
Barbiturates24 hours to 3 weeks
BenzodiazepinesUp to six weeks for extended use
Cocaine2-4 days
5 more rows
Jun 8, 2022

What can be detected in a urine test? ›

It's used to detect and manage a wide range of disorders, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine. For example, a urinary tract infection can make urine look cloudy instead of clear.

What are four hazards risks in the workplace linked with the use of drugs and alcohol? ›

lateness and absenteeism. safety concerns. bad behaviour or poor discipline. adverse effects on company image and customer relations.

What are common influencing factors to substance abuse? ›

Risk Factors for High-Risk Substance Use
  • Family history of substance use.
  • Favorable parental attitudes towards the behavior.
  • Poor parental monitoring.
  • Parental substance use.
  • Family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Association with delinquent or substance using peers.
  • Lack of school connectedness.

What are the positive effects of substance abuse? ›

To feel good.

For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the high is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.

What is the main disadvantage of urine sample? ›

Potential for trauma to urinary tract, especially urethra. More invasive than other methods; sedation may be required. Risk of introducing bladder infection. If bacterial growth appears on urine culture, must differentiate between urethral contamination and urinary tract infection.

What are the advantages of drugs? ›

The benefits of medicines are the helpful effects you get when you use them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing infection, or relieving pain.

What is the importance of drug testing? ›

The purpose of a drug test is to look for drug use and misuse, which includes: Using any illegal drugs, such as cocaine or club drugs. Misusing prescription medicines, which means taking prescription medicines in a different way or for a different purpose than your provider prescribed.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of targeted drug delivery system? ›

Advantages: Convenience in Administration, Non invasive, accurate dose, Higher compliance, Economical [8 - 10]. Disadvantages: Unconscious patients cannot take dose, Low solubility and permeability, Degradation by Gastro Intestinal flora, first pass metabolism, Food interactions, and Poor bioavailability.

What are the pros for urine drug testing? ›

Less expensive, fast, easy to use More expensive, labor intensive Most frequently used technique in all settings, including hospital labs Requires advanced laboratory services. Used commonly as screening test. Used primarily to confirm positive immunoassay result.

What are the pros of urine tests? ›

A urinalysis can help diagnose the cause of these signs and symptoms. To monitor a medical condition. If you've been diagnosed with a medical condition, such as kidney disease or a urinary tract infection, your doctor might recommend testing your urine regularly to monitor your condition and treatment.

What is the disadvantage of urine drug test? ›

Urine testing remains the most commonly used drug test. It is easy to collect and can be tested for a wide range of different drugs. The main disadvantage of urine testing is that urine samples can potentially be manipulated to provide false drug test results if not monitored by a professional.

What is the advantage and disadvantages? ›

As nouns, the difference between disadvantage and advantage is that disadvantage is a weakness or undesirable characteristic; a con while the advantage is any condition, circumstance, opportunity, or means, particularly favorable to success, or any desired end.

What are risks vs benefits? ›

Definitions. Benefit A valued or desired outcome; an advantage. Risk The probability of harm or injury (physical, psychological, social, or economic) occurring as a result of participation in a research study.

What does ❄ mean in drugs? ›

Cocaine: ❄️, 🌨️, ☃️, 🎱, 🔑, 😛, 🐡

What 3 things do we test drugs for? ›

New medical drugs have to be tested and trialled before being used to check that they are safe and effective. New drugs are extensively tested for toxicity, efficacy and dose.

What is the most common form of drug testing? ›

The urine test is the most common form of drug and alcohol testing. It may be conducted as part of pre-employment screening, randomly, or post-accident by employers, especially for employees in certain occupations. Currently, urinalysis is the only testing method approved for federally-mandated testing.

Can you think about advantages and disadvantages of oral route? ›

Oral administration can be easier and less painful than other routes, such as injection. However, the onset of action is relatively low, and the effectiveness is reduced if it is not absorbed properly in the digestive system, or if it is broken down by digestive enzymes before it can reach the bloodstream.

What are the disadvantages of targeted drug delivery? ›

The disadvantage of the system is high cost, which makes productivity more difficult, and the reduced ability to adjust the dosages. Targeted drug delivery systems have been developed to optimize regenerative techniques.

What are the advantages of drug delivery? ›

Controlled and targeted drug delivery innovations provide several advantages over conventional ones, like greater toxicity control, bioavailability, and release profile [1, 2] . The efficacy of therapeutic systems depends on preserving and sustaining adequate drug levels at the target site. ...


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