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Alcohol and Drug Screening
In recent years, one of the most controversial topics in the workplace has been the issue of drug and alcohol screening. These programs have created a heated debate among workers, employers and lawmakers over the choices we make for safety versus our right to privacy. But even as this debate rages on, the drug testing industry continues to grow – with more people than ever being required to submit to these tests, and more advanced methods of screening being developed to administer to them.
The following is a brief overview of the current state of alcohol and drug screening – and what it means to you and your rights.
What is Alcohol and Drug Screening?
Alcohol and drug screening refers to any procedure that tests the amount of illicit substances currently in the individual’s system. There are a number of different types of screening, used in a variety of settings including the workplace or by law enforcement in the field.
The technology behind drug and alcohol testing has also become more advanced, with the ability to now determine whether an individual has used drugs or alcohol by examining saliva and other bodily fluids.
What are the Most Common Alcohol and Drug Test Settings?
There are several different ways that an individual might encounter a drug or alcohol screening procedure during the course of their lifetime, including:
- By law enforcement. When an individual is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, they are given a breathalyzer exam by the police officer who pulled them over. This is actually one of the most common forms of drug and alcohol screening. In addition, an individual who commits a crime may undergo a screening procedure to determine if they were under the influence when the occurrence took place.
- By an employer. More and more companies are performing drug tests as part of the employment screening process. Private companies are within their rights to do so as they see fit. Some jobs require the individual to maintain a high-level of safety (jobs where the individual may be putting lives at risk such as air traffic controller or truck driver) and in these cases the employer may perform random drug and alcohol testing for all their employees.
- By athletic commissions. One of the “hot button” topics in the world of sports over the past decade has been the use of performance enhancing drugs by professional athletes. Different sports leagues have different punishments and policies – but despite the efforts of various athlete labor unions, the drug test has become a fact of life in the NBA, NHL, NBA and MLB and looks to be here to stay.
The Importance of Screening for Drugs and Alcohol
Although many individuals may see these tests as a violation of an individual’s civil liberties, the process is an important one for a number of reasons. For one, where issues of public safety are in question, drug screening can mean the difference between life and death. If an individual is trusted with a position such as truck driver or air traffic controller, it is absolutely imperative that they are sober when performing their duties. Even publically traded companies are considered fertile ground for drug and alcohol screening – as key employees who are engaged in substance abuse may impact the work product created – and consequently the value of that company’s stock. Finally, alcohol and drug screening can also insure that individuals who are addicted to these substances get the treatment help they need. Living with alcoholism or drug addiction means that the individual may be in a deep state of denial about their condition. Sometimes, it takes the jarring impact of a positive drug test to help that individual realize that he indeed has a problem and needs drug abuse help.
Beating a Drug or Alcohol Screening Test
Back in the old days, individuals who were afraid of testing positive for drugs or alcohol would ask someone else (who was not using) to provide their own urine for the test – thus producing a “clean” result. Times have changed and the ability to “fool” these tests has become increasingly more difficult. It is not recommended that anyone try to outsmart the drug screening process – as it is just as likely to result in your termination as a free ride.
What to do After a Positive Drug Test
Once an individual has tested positive for drugs or alcohol, their career is likely to be at risk. Depending upon the situation, the best course of action for the individual is to seek out professional help as soon as possible. A drug or alcohol rehab center provides comprehensive care for addiction that addresses both the physical and psychological components of the disease. For those whose jobs are being endangered by drug abuse, drug and alcohol rehab by occupation is the best way to get sober and learn to master the tools required to stay that way.