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Psy 325 - Workplace Drug Screening Opinion Paper

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Workplace Drug Screening Opinion Paper

PSY/325

March 15, 2005

Workplace Drug Screening Opinion Paper

Drug testing is become increasingly popular tool used by business' today to weed out the potential employment candidate that may have drug problems. This testing does not determine whether a potential candidate has any issues with alcohol abuse, but will help a company determine whether or not the potential employee might be using other substances, such as prescription pills or illegal drugs. This may be a bonus to the company to find out this information upfront, but what about ethics of this practice? Unless the employee is abusing drugs in the workplace it really is none of the business of the company to dictate what an employee does at home or off work hours. That is the argument.

To explore further, let's take a look at what types of drug test are available today. There are five primary types of drug tests: urine, blood, hair, saliva and sweat. The most common test used is urine testing. Most companies use them because the cost is cheap and there are many facilities that can do urine tests quickly and cheaply. For the tester, a urine test can be manipulated. Just by abstaining from drug usage for a short period of time and flushing the body with water you can receive a negative for drugs urine test and still be a drug user.

The second type of testing listed is blood tests. The blood tests are the most expensive and the most effective. For the tester this is considered a very intrusive form of drug testing. Because they are so expensive and take more time than urine tests they are not very commonly used by pre-employment screenings. Hair testing is very accurate. The hair test can detect drug usage over a long period of time If someone that is being tested is a regular drug user the hair test will detect it. There is not way the tester can manipulate hair testing. This form of testing is about three times more expensive then urine testing and is about twice as effective. Saliva testing is a little more expensive than urine testing, but less than blood and hair testing. They are less intrusive to the tester and are becoming more common to use as a form of pre-employment drug testing. Finally, sweat testing is very intrusive because it requires the tester to wear a patch over a period of time. These tests are accurate, but they are costly and time consuming.

Now that we have a better sense of the types of tests available, let's discuss the reliability

these tests. Each person's body is different. First things such as amount and frequency of use, age, metabolic rate, body mass index, overall health and drug tolerance play a huge factor in the outcome of any particular drug test (www.erowid.org, 2006)). The following chart shows detection periods per type of drug used:

SUBSTANCE BLOOD SALIVA SWEAT URINE HAIR

Alcohol unknown unknown unknown 12-24 hrs n/a

Amphetamine unknown 3 days unknown 1-4 days up to 90 days

Barbiturates unknown unknown unknown 1-21 days unknown

Benzodiazepines unknown unknown unknown 1-42 days unknown

Cannabis (single use) 2-3 days 12-24 hrs unknown 2-3 days up to 90 days

Cannabis (habitual use) 2 weeks 12-24 hrs unknown up to 12 wks up to 90 days

Cocaine unknown 1 day unknown 4-5 days up to 90 days

Codeine/Morphine unknown 12-36 hrs unknown 2-4 days up to 90 days

Heroin unknown unknown unknown 2-4 days up to 90 days

Methamphetamine 1-3 days unknown unknown 3-5 days up to 90 days

PCP 1-3 days 3 days unknown 3-7 days up to 90 days

(www.erowid.org, 2006)

This chart clearly shows that the hair test is very accurate. It can detect most substances within 90 days of use. Although the blood tests are the most accurate it is unknown how long it will go back for detection, but it will detect within enough reasonable time for a good result. With the urine test you can see how the tester can easily manipulate a false negative test. The time frame is very short for most substances.

For a company to use drug testing it usually has to have a purpose. Let's explore some of the testing programs. First there is what is known as mandatory drug testing. For a person to have a mandatory drug test they usually have to be applying for a job that could be a government job, a job that requires a person to operate machinery or drive a vehicle. All of these types of jobs typically require mandatory drug testing as the result of drug use can severely injure the employee or other innocent people. A good example of this type

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