Why It’s Becoming So Popular

Drug and alcohol use within the workplace is a serious issue that employers around the world are beginning to tackle. To prevent and reduce the risk of employee substance abuse, many companies have started to implement testing protocols to identify employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Testing for alcohol and drugs is becoming increasingly popular and businesses are turning to it more and more to protect their operations and maintain a safe, productive working environment.

In the past, employers had to rely solely on self-report surveys or random checks to assess the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. While these methods can be effective, they are also prone to cheating and are not foolproof solutions. With the rise of modern drug testing technology and processes, employers are now able to quickly, accurately and discreetly detect any potential drug or alcohol use in their employees.

Employers may choose to conduct testing for a number of reasons. One of the most obvious is to ensure a drug and alcohol-free working environment, thus protecting both the employees and the company. Seeing as substance abuse can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism and higher insurance costs, companies that have drug and alcohol testing in place can save money in the long run. Additionally, studies have shown that companies with substance abuse testing protocols are usually perceived as motivated and professional, which can add to their positive reputation and appeal to potential hires.

Most states in the US now allow employers to conduct pre-employment drug tests, drug tests for cause (for employees who are suspected of using substances), and drug tests as part of the post-accident investigation process. Generally, these tests involve screening for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates. Alcohol tests can involve breathalyzers, often used to determine an employee’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Many companies have additional testing requirements in place to ensure a safe drug-free culture throughout the workplace. For instance, certain organizations may opt for random drug and alcohol tests of their employees, which helps to identify hidden drug users and send a clear zero-tolerance message to all employees. Depending on the type of job, some firms may require employees to take a drug test right before their shift or at the end of the workday.

Finally, businesses may also choose to outsource these testing services to third-party companies that specialize in employee drug testing and alcohol testing. This can be a valuable asset to many organizations, especially those in the safety-critical industries such as aviation and transportation, as it allows experienced and qualified teams to properly assess the risk of drug and alcohol use in the workplace.

Overall, the importance of testing for alcohol and drugs in the workplace cannot be overstated. While this practice may pose an inconvenience to some businesses, employers should consider it a necessary step in order to ensure a safe and productive working environment. By implementing effective substance abuse policies, employers can make sure that their employees and business operations remain protected.

What is Alcohol and Drug Screening?

drug and alcohol screeningThe necessity for alcohol and drug screening arose from general substance abuse problems within society. Alcohol and drug screening has come to be necessary in a number of different ways, such as determining a person’s ability to hold a job, operate machinery and resist illegal substances. Alcohol and drug screens are used by employers, law enforcement officers and medical professionals, just to name a few.

Drug testing is not a new practice. For decades, people seeking employment in certain regions of North America have been aware that they must first pass a drug screen, and are aware that random drug screens could arise in their future. This practice was put into place for reasons of safety and liability. A person under the influence of a drug in the workplace can pose a danger to themselves and their co-workers, as well as becoming a liability to the organization they work for.

Drug screening is also used by law enforcement officers to determine if someone is illegally incapacitated, in the instance that an officer suspects someone is in possession of an illegal substance, or is over the legal limit of a substance while performing a certain activity. If someone has already been charged with one of these offences, often they will have to submit to repeated drug testing in the future.

Medical professionals will make use of drug screens in order to make a diagnosis on a patient, or to monitor a person’s sobriety, such as in the instance of a rehabilitation facility.
Alcohol screening is generally used for the same things drug screening is used for, but is a more recent practice, generally speaking. This is because alcohol consumption has long been legal in North America, so it is thought of as the lesser of two evils in many ways. For machinery operation, alcohol screening is a long-utilized practice, but for something like employment, it is very recent.

The Future of Drug and Alcohol Screening

drug alcohol screening futureThe future of drug and alcohol screening is indefinite, considering how quickly legislation is changing around drug use and screening privileges. In the United States and Canada, the public is becoming more and more vocal about their dislike of invasive drug screens and is pushing for legislation to have it banned. The public is also vocalizing their support of recreational drug use in many areas, so companies will have to decide if they will continue to enforce drug testing even when the law no longer supports their cause. In essence, the public opinion of drug and alcohol screening is evolving, and employers, legislators and the public alike will have to be prepared for the changes that are coming.

The ethics of drug and alcohol screening are very complicated. The appropriateness of any given screen should be measured carefully rather than handled blithely. Drug and alcohol screening became resented by the public because of how policing it felt. It became common for an employee to have a simple accident in the work place, one that any sober person is capable of having, and then immediately be inundated by demands to comply with a drug and alcohol screening. Similarly, anyone whom a police officer doesn’t like the looks of may be subjected to a drug or alcohol screen, despite never showing any signs of being intoxicated. Initially, total power was given to employees and law enforcement officers to instigate a screen based on any whim they had. Presently, people are pushing for the necessity of more verifiable “just cause” in order to initiate a drug or alcohol screen.

The ethics of recreational drug use are also heavily under debate. With a number of states legalizing substances like marijuana for recreational use, it is clear that the public is not as critical of recreational drugs as they were in the past. This presents a conundrum for authority figures who still strongly enforce drug and alcohol screening. Their policies are becoming unpopular, which means that as employers, legislators and law enforcement officers, they too will become unpopular, which is not in their favor. Only time will tell how drug and alcohol screening controversies will resolve.

Drug and Alcohol Screening Controversies

drug alcohol screen controversyDrug and alcohol screening are necessary to certain processes in the modern world, but they do not come without some controversy. It is possible to abuse the drug and alcohol screening process when it is gone about unethically. Every measure of authority that can be taken can be abused, and drug and alcohol testing are no exception. If a person is stereotyped as someone who should submit to a screening, subjected to a screening in a disrespectful way or forced into a screening in any instance when it is not actually called for, this is an unethical practice. Several examples of this are as follows:

  • Invasion of privacy. It is argued by critics of drug and alcohol screening that the procedure is invasive. This could mean the nature of the procedure or how liberally it is being exercised. Drug and alcohol screening are capable of revealing very personal information about a person, not all of which is actually valuable for assessing their eligibility to do something or go somewhere. It is inarguable that drug and alcohol screening are an absolute necessity at times, but this does not mean they should be ordered capriciously. There should always be a firm, legitimate reason for the screening of any individual for drugs or alcohol.
  • Profiling. A matter that has landed authorities in the hot seat repeatedly is the problem of profiling when it comes to drug and alcohol screening. Many studies have revealed the biases of authority figures based on who they select for drug and alcohol screenings. Some reveal a bias toward a particular ethnicity, personality type, gender or other demographic. Calling a drug or alcohol screening random when it is actually based on profiling is a clear violation of screening ethics.
  • Unethical use of power. It is also possible for authority figures to exert unnecessary power in their drug and alcohol screenings for the purpose of intimidation or some other personal agenda. Drug and alcohol screenings should only be used to protect the safety and well being of everyone who could be affected by a misuse of drugs or alcohol.

Drug and Alcohol Screening Benefits

drug alcohol screen benefitsDrug and alcohol screening can be very controversial, but there are a number of benefits that go along with the process. There are a number of occasions where drug testing is perfectly appropriate, such as a pre-employment measure for a job operating heavy equipment, or as a way of checking in on someone who is under parole for illegal substance use, or as a way of enforcing mental health treatment that someone entered into voluntarily. Having the option of drug and alcohol screening in these circumstances does the public good, as well as individuals. The benefits of drug and alcohol screening are as follows:

  • Ensuring safety. There are a number of jobs and tasks that people execute that can put people’s safety at risk if they are performed under the influence of a substance. Simple over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl can be dangerous to many jobs and tasks,which means that alcohol and narcotics are nothing short of life threatening when mixed with things like heavy equipment, driving or anything else that requires coordination. Having the option of drug testing people before they perform these tasks, if and when there is a legitimate need, is reassuring.
  • Containing criminality. One of the most common reasons to enforce a drug or alcohol screening is to catch people by surprise who are trying to get away with using substances illegally. I am not referring to a person who is smoking weed within the safety of their own home. I am referring to people who drive hammered, take PCP and lash out at others or get stoned and attempt endeavors that require coordination, endangering others. Knowing that the law may enforce drug and alcohol screens to catch these perpetrators as well as follow up with them after they have been caught is a positive use of a drug or alcohol screen.
  • Holding accountability. When a person has become so lost in their addiction or substance abuse that they are incapable of restraining themselves from it, they need to surrender their control to other people. Professionals who work at treatment centers need the authority to drug and alcohol screen clients to hold them accountable for their actions.

Occasions for Alcohol and Drug Screening

  • alcohol drug screen occasionsPre-employment measures. Many employers, particularly in the United States, practice drug screening as part of the interview process. Some practice alcohol screening as well, but much less commonly. The primary substance being tested for is THC. This chemical is the active ingredient in marijuana. It remains stored in the body’s fat cells far longer than any other substance. Although marijuana is becoming more accepted in the United States and Canada, many companies still enforce drug tests on employees because the company leaders are personally opposed to it.
  • Potential DUI. Police officers in most jurisdictions carry devices that screen for both alcohol intoxication and drug intoxication. Breathalyzer tests have long been toted by police officers to screen for alcohol impairment, but drug tests that can be administered to drivers are a more recent trend. Typically they come in the form of cheek swabs which can usually tell what narcotics the person has used recently.
  • Court orders. When someone is on parole, house arrest or some other court ordered form of reporting to authorities, they are frequently ordered to submit to drug and alcohol screenings to monitor their sobriety. These are necessary ways of gauging whether or not a person is following their substance related court orders.
  • Drug and alcoholic treatment centers. If a person has committed to addiction or substance abuse treatment, it is likely that they have signed a contract allowing themselves to be screened randomly for drugs or alcohol. This is part of submitting to the control of mental health specialists. They need to be able to intervene into their client’s lives as needed.
  • Self testing. Many people self test out of sheer curiosity for how they will score. Most people who do this have recently used a narcotic or have drank alcohol and want to know how they would score if a screen were enforced upon them. People can exercise this option by buying a screening test at a local pipe shop, head shop or drug paraphernalia shop.