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Which Alternative Specimens for Drug Testing Ensure a Drug-Free Workplace?

Drug testing has become common practice for many employers, but navigating the various types of specimens that can be tested to meet your company’s goals, objectives and DrugfreeWorkplace Policy requirements can get confusing. Urine tests have been the gold standard since pre-employment and random drug testing was instituted by many organizations in the 1980s. Unfortunately, there are candidates who know how to get around the urine drug test collection process so that they are able to continue drug use, potentially endangering your clients and their workplaces.

While not all employers need, or want, to test current or prospective employees, those whose employees have access to confidential information or perform jobs operating heavy machinery or driving or flying may be required to use drug testing. Common reasons companies institute aDrugfreeWorkplace Program include:

  • Government regulations or contract requirements
  • Reduce risk and safety liability
  • Reduce incidences of theft
  • Reduceworker’scompensation premiums
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Improve productivity
  • Ensure the habits of drug users and abusers don’t negatively affect their company’s culture and good employees

According to a recent survey of 1,000 companies performed by the American Management Association, 51.5% of the respondents engaged in some form of drug testing, representing a net increase of 140% since 1987.

The urine drug test is the easiest to administer and is inexpensive, but it can be easy to adulterate and pass. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, it is sometimes necessary to observe the urine collection, a degrading process for everyone involved. Urine drug testing detects drug use within an average window of the past 1-3 days.  This is only an average, as frequency of use, concentration of the drug ingested, and even the donor’s own metabolism influence the detection period.  In situations where direct observation is required, same gender collectors and facilities that accommodate proper urine collection protocols. Current alternative testing technologies provide not only accurate results with a longer detection window, but simpler test administration.

If employers want to conduct drug testing there are other options that may be easier, less invasive and more difficult to tamper with. Hair and fingernail/toenail drug testing offer longer detection windows (common employer practice is a 90 day period for a hair follicle test; nails provide 4 to 6 months of information). These tests are easy to administer with very simple facility accommodations and without the need for gender based test collectors. In addition, these biological specimens are very difficult for candidates or employees to adulterate. Although more expensive than urine testing, an employer has the ability to monitor a candidate’s usage over a longer period of time and with less inconvenience and discomfort than traditional urine drug tests. These tests also offer the benefit of identifying long-term drug use, while urine tests only show use within the most recent few days.

Oral fluid testing is also available and may be the right test if there is a suspicion of drug use or immediately after an incident. Because the detection window is even shorter than a urine test, only 2-24 hours, this test is best used to pinpoint short-term, immediate use or for a random drug test. Oral fluid testing is a lab-based test, not a rapid test, is difficult to tamper with, very easy to administer, and requires virtually no facility adjustment or specific test collector requirements.  It is also a good solution for remote work areas, where it may be challenging for a drug testing provider togetonsitewithina reasonable period of time.

Alternative specimens for drug testing provide flexibility for employers to better meet their corporate and HR goals and objectives, especially for those with higher risk and safety issues at stake.  It is important to incorporate language for alternative specimens intoyourDrugfreeWorkplacePolicy if you choose to expand testing beyond the more common urine drug test.

Although not every employer will need to know how their employees, either current or prospective, spend their time over the weekend, whether engaging in drug use or not, many employers want to know that employees are not coming to work under the influence, missing work or deadlines due to drug use or endangering clients or other employees. Each drug testing specimen has benefits and situations in which it is best suited.

The urine drug test still has a place in an overall drug testing program and is ideal for random drug testinginongoing drug-free workplaces. It is cost-effective and provides instant results when a rapid screen is used. Adulteration and dilution testing of specimens collected is available, and it is still the most common method of drug testing.

Employers considering instituting a drug testing program should investigate and design a comprehensive program that utilizes multiple tests to deter drug use. Multiple detection windows and test specimens can help to ensure that candidates and employees are staying clean, thereby protecting your workplace, your employees and your clients.

National Drug Facts Week 2015: Shatter the Myths!

 

 

Monitoring the Future Study is an annual survey conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse as an effort to shed light on the average American teen’s attitude towards drugs and tobacco use. Out of the 40,000 teens who participate every year, almost a third of high school seniors admit to having used an illicit drug at some point in the past year. Over 10% report to nonmedical use of prescription painkillers and more than 20% claim to have smoked marijuana at least once during a given month’s time. Numbers like these prove that teenagers need to be receiving a better education on the dangers associated with drug use and substance addiction.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse noticed this need and have worked to meet it by sponsoring the National Drug Facts Week. First launched in 2010, this week has served as a chance to crush the myths about drug abuse and addiction that so many teens develop through the things they hear on TV, in movies, music on the Internet or from friends. This year, National Drug Facts Week will be recognized the week of Jan. 26th through February 1st. Throughout these days, organizations across the country (including hospitals, schools, sports clubs, etc.) will be hosting events where teens can come with their questions on drug use and have them answered by professional addiction scientists and highly educated health experts.

Want to get involved? Visit the NDFW website to see what events will be taking place in your community and test your knowledge about drugs by taking the National Drug IQ Challenge. For questions regarding teen drug abuse, substance addiction, or teen drug testing, contact us at Any Lab Test Now® today.

Are You Ready to Quit? Make Your Move on Great American Smokeout Day

In the United States today, around 42 million Americans have reported to smoking cigarettes. In 2013, a survey by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reported that 13.4 million Americans smoked cigars, 2.5 million smoked tobacco in pipes, and 9 million used smokeless or spit tobacco.

Although those numbers are impactful, the seriousness of the matter truly hits home when you know a tobacco user personally or you, yourself are one. Knowing that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, why not take charge of your life or encourage your friend to take charge of theirs by creating a healthy lifestyle without tobacco?

In addition to effecting your health, smoking can also affect your job or your chances of landing a job. We are seeing more and more employers testing for cotinine, the metabolite of nicotine. Certain employers will not hire smokers, and if they do, they may increase the smoker’s health insurance premium.

That’s why this Thursday, November 20th, Any Lab Test Now® will be joining in support of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. On this day, smokers across the country will be encouraged and challenged to use the day as a starting point to make a change in their lives towards a tobacco-free life. Whether the day is used to experience a 24 hour period of no tobacco or it serves as a day to quit for good, any step taken is a positive one.