Drug 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.