Drug Testing Facts
Drug abuse in the United States as well as in other countries has been around for a long time. Although many people believe that street drugs only started to become a problem in the 1960s, drug abuse has actually been around for a much longer time. In fact, a number of the drugs that are currently illegal were actually considered to be fairly commonplace and even legal many years ago. Further, some of the drugs that are illegal today were once actually attainable over the counter in drugstores and pharmacies.
History of Drug Testing
When you look at drug testing facts over the years, it becomes apparent that the public has had mixed feelings and opinions about them. Drug testing as we know it today actually started in the late 1980s when the Reagan administration began to focus on their “War on Drugs” initiative. Prior to this time, the United States didn’t have any standard drug testing procedures. Once the “War on Drugs” was initiated, companies started to institute drug testing programs for employees, especially in industries where the use of drugs could create hazardous working conditions for the employee and fellow co-workers. During this same time frame, companies also started to adopt policies for random drug testing of their employees.
Common Drug Tests
There are various drug tests that are commonly used by companies in the United States to screen for drugs. Although urine drug testing is often considered to be the standard, it’s not actually the most accurate test for detecting drug use. Although urine tests can detect many of the most common illegal drugs, the drugs have to have been used within a week prior to taking the test in order to be successfully detected. Saliva tests are also commonly used to detect the use of many common illegal drugs. Police departments frequently use saliva tests when there is a need to test for drug usage. There are also other drug testing methods including sweat patches, blood tests and hair tests.
Drug Testing as It’s Used Today
In today’s business environment, companies routinely use drug tests as part of the hiring process. Many companies also include random drug testing as part of their corporate policy. However, according to law, companies who administer random drug testing are required to notify potential employees of this policy.
The general public also sometimes utilizes drug testing kits. For example, these kits can be used in situations where parents want to see if their children are using drugs. These home testing kits generally consist of a specially designed damp cloth, which one can wipe against a surface to detect drug residue. The cloth must then be placed in a special envelope and sent to a drug lab for testing. Drug testing is also common in the world of sports to make sure that athletes are not using drugs designed to enhance their performance. Mandatory drug testing for athletes has been widely used since 1986 when the testing program was first initiated.
Drug Testing in Other Countries
The United States is not the only country that has adopted drug testing procedures. However, testing in other countries is generally used less extensively as compared to the United States. In some European countries individuals are permitted to reject drug tests because their personal privacy is protected by human rights acts. In fact, in some countries it’s even possible for individuals to sue companies and organizations that force drug testing upon them.
Drug Testing Controversies
Drug testing is not without controversy, since opponents of this testing claim that it violates a person’s privacy. Some people feel that the fact that a person uses drugs recreationally on their own time does not necessarily mean that their work performance will be compromised. Opponents of random drug testing claim that one positive drug test has the potential to ruin a person’s career and possibly even their life. Many people feel that drug tests should only be administered when there is a probable cause, instead of in the random fashion that is so common today.
The possibility of inaccurate testing results is another reason why many people are opposed to drug testing programs. There have been situations where legal drug products such as birth control pills have been instrumental in producing erroneous positive drug test results. In some cases, other common substances such as vinegar, herbal tea, poppy seeds, cold medications and even salt have been said to skew drug test results. There are also common ways that people can try to “fool” drug tests, especially the urine tests. In some cases, individuals have resorted to tricks such as drinking large amounts of water or caffeinated beverages in an attempt to beat a drug test.
Others feel that drug testing should be banned on basic principles, because the very act of administrating these tests is thought to violate a person’s basic human rights. There are also concerns that employers could potentially use the samples that are collected for purposes other than drug testing, such as to screen out potential employees that have certain health conditions. If tests were to be used in this fashion, they could fall under the category of discrimination. Of course, the implications of an erroneous positive drug test could be quite serious, potentially ruining the person’s life.
Some people also feel that drug testing has become more of a big money making business instead of a way to protect the public. The popularity of drug testing programs in the United States has created an entire industry based on the testing equipment, chemicals and testing companies, as well as the testing labs and personnel.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that drug testing has probably increased safety in the workplace. However, it’s also difficult to dismiss many of the objections raised by opponents of drug testing policies.