Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Testing
Q. Why do employers drug test their employees?
A. Employers primarily use drug and alcohol testing to ensure a safe and drug-free workplace for their employees. Drug screening has been proven to decrease drug abuse in the workplace and is a strong deterrent for on-the-job drug abuse.
Some employers must drug screen employees because they are required by the Federal Government. For instance, Department of Defense contractors must adhere to the Safe and Drug-Free Workplace Act. Some employee positions have mandated drug testing protocols because their work is safety sensitive and their position description places them under Department of Transportation guidelines.
Q. Which substances do drug tests screen?
A. The D.O.T. five panel tests for: Amphetamines, Marijuana (THC), Cocaine, Phencyclidine (PCP) and Opiates. A typical non-D.O.T. five panel will test for: Amphetamine, Methamphetamines, Marijuana (THC), Cocaine and Opiates. There are several varieties of extended panels that can break specific metabolites out further, such as: Benzodiazepines, Propoxyphene, Barbiturates, Methadone, Ecstasy, Oxycodone, Buprenorphine, etc. Specific testing can also be requested for other substances, such as Nicotine, K2 Spice metabolites, and alcohol.
Q. What types of specimens are tested for drugs?
A. Urinalysis screening is the most common; however, hair samples, oral swab testing and blood tests are also frequently used.
Q. How long does it take to get drug testing results?
A. How long drug testing results take depends on what type of test you are completing. If the test goes to the lab, i.e. a DOT collection or one that needs to be confirmed for a substance, the lab has 24-72 hours to release the results. If the lab does not find any substance in the sample, it will be released in closer to 24 hours. However, if the lab finds a substance in the sample, it typically takes anywhere from 48-72 hours to release the results back to the Medical Review Officer for review of possible prescriptions or justification of result.
If the test is a rapid result cup, you will have results before you leave, provided the cup does not find any substance(s) in the urine. If the results come back negative the collector will inform you of the negative result, ask you to sign certifying it is your urine, then you are free to leave. Your employer should have results within the hour or by the end of the business day. If the cup detects a substance, a non-negative result, the collector will then complete paperwork to send the sample to the lab for confirmation. The lab will have 24-72 hours to confirm or dispute the presence of a substance.
Q. Who will receive my drug test results?
A. Employee drug test results will typically go to the HR director, Safety Manager or hiring agent, depending upon how each company is structured and who is appointed to serve as the Designated Employee Representative. For very small companies, the business owner may act in that capacity and receive the test results.
Q. What happens if I am taking medications?
A. If your prescription medication is detected in a drug screen, it is a simple process to verify your valid physician-administered prescription, which will result in negative test result by the Medical Review Officer.
Q. What can cause a false positive on my drug test?
A. One of the most common false positive results we see is for methamphetamine or amphetamine. The answer for this false positive is simple and easily overturned. Diet pills are often stimulants in order to help you lose weight. Therefore, they can falsely trigger as an amphetamine or methamphetamine. In order to overturn the results, the sample is sent to the lab, where they use high-tech devices in order to differentiate between a diet pill and methamphetamine or amphetamine.
If the rapid result cup comes up with a non-negative result, the collectors will send it off to the lab for confirmation. When the lab tests the sample, they are testing for a metabolite of the substance. By testing for the metabolite, the lab is testing for the by-product, or breakdown, of the original substance. In doing this, it allows the lab and Medical Review Officer to say with near certainty that the drug was consumed and metabolized in the donors’ body. The metabolite will also stay in the system for longer than the “parent-drug”, allowing for longer detection time.
Q. How far back can you test for drugs?
A. It depends on the drug and the specimen tested. Hair tests can detect drug use as far back as an entire year, depending upon the length of the hair sample. Most common hair tests detect 90 days of use. Urinalysis and oral swab testing are another matter. Approximate drug detection times can be found here:
Approximate detection times for urinalysis. Variables can depend upon amount of drug ingested, individual metabolism, time since use and amount of fluid intake. This is a general guideline only.
Q. When can my employer request a drug test?
A. Testing is typically done for pre-employment, post-accident, random pool selections, reasonable cause/suspicion, return-to-duty or for follow-up after a positive drug test result.
Q. If I do not agree with my test results, may I request to be re-tested?
A. No you may not. Drug testing products and lab results are extremely sophisticated and accurate. If you have had a split-specimen sent to the lab, you may request that your second sample be re-tested to verify the initial results. This is typically offered at the donor’s expense and is costly, but the sample is sent to a 3rd party laboratory for the confirmation testing.
Q. Can my company still test for THC if it’s legal?
A. The answer is simple – YES. Any company federally mandated or receiving federal funding is required to perform drug testing. All Department of Transportation employees are required to have a pre-employment screen, as well as be enrolled in a random drug testing program.
Any private company has the right and ability to test for THC at any point in your employment. This would include pre-employment, random, reasonable cause, post-accident, and return to duty.
What if marijuana is legal in that state?
Since marijuana is still federally illegal, employers still have the ability to test for the schedule I substance regardless of state, county, or city regulations.
What if I have my medical marijuana card?
This is still a controversial and ever changing topic and question. The easiest answer is, if the employer has a Zero Tolerance Policy, traditionally the court systems have upheld that it is the employer’s right to drug test and deny employment. However, some companies are willing to work with the employee under certain circumstance. This may mean modified work duties or prohibiting consumption during work hours or before shift. This would mean the company does not have a Zero Tolerance Policy.
Q. What about drug testing in schools?
A. Visit this page as a resource: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/drug-testing/faq-drug-testing-in-schools
Q. How long does a drug test take?
A. Once you enter the drug screening area, the certified collector will ask you to remove any outer layers of clothing, i.e. jackets, hats, sweatshirts. You will then be instructed to empty out the contents of your pockets. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your wallet in the locked drawer, you are able to place it back in your pocket after the collector inspects it. Once you have emptied your pockets and locked your item in the drawer, the collector will ask you to lift your shirt and do a complete 360 turn to see the waste line of your pants. They will also ask to see the top of your socks or boots. After that you will be instructed to wash your hands. Once you have washed your hands, the collector will hand you the cup and instruct you to fill the cup to a minimum volume line. You are instructed to not flush the toilet and return with the specimen. After you have provided the minimum volume, the collector will inspect it for adulterants or substitutions. While the collector is inspecting the sample, you are able to wash your hands again and collect your items from the locked drawer. If the sample is being sent to the lab, the collector will then divide the sample into two smaller vials and complete the paperwork. You are asked to sign and initial certifying it is your urine sample and that you watched the collector seal the samples for the lab in front of you. Once the samples have been sealed and packaged, you will be provided a copy of the chain of custody as proof you completed the test. If the sample is being collected in a rapid result test – one where the results are instant, the collector will read the results and complete the chain of custody. You will then be asked to read and sign certifying it is your urine in the sample. This total process will take anywhere from 5-7 minutes.
Q. How long does a DOT Drug Test take?
A. DOT drug testing is a fairly quick process once you are called back to provide the sample. Once you enter the drug screening area, the certified collector will ask you to remove any outer layers of clothing, i.e. jackets, hats, sweatshirts. You will then be instructed to empty out the contents of your pockets. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your wallet in the locked drawer, you are able to place it back in your pocket after the collector inspects it. Once you have emptied your pockets and locked your item in the drawer, the collector will ask you to lift your shirt and do a complete 360 turn to see the waste line of your pants. They will also ask to see the top of your socks or boots. After that you will be instructed to wash your hands. Once you have washed your hands, the collector will hand you the cup and instruct you to fill the cup to a minimum volume line. You are instructed to not flush the toilet and return with the specimen. After you have provided the minimum volume, the collector will inspect it for adulterants or substitutions. While the collector is inspecting the sample, you are able to wash your hands again and collect your items from the locked drawer. The collector will then divide the sample into two smaller vials and seal the samples. This is done in the event the donor would like to re-test the second vial if a substance is found that the donor disagrees with in the first vial. IF you request a re-test, the second vial is then sent to another certified lab for testing. You are asked to sign and initial certifying it is your urine sample and that you watched the collector seal the samples for the lab in front of you. Once the samples have been sealed and packaged, you will be provided a copy of the chain of custody as proof you completed the test – then you are free to leave. This total process will take anywhere from 5-7 minutes.
Q. Will CBD cause me to fail my drug test?
A. If you are using a product with strictly CBD in it, you will not fail your drug test. However, if the product is a mixture of CBD and THC, there is a chance you could have a positive drug screen for THC. This outcome depends on the quantity of THC in the product, how much of the product you use, and how often you use the product. If you are concerned or unsure if your CBD product contains THC, a good rule to follow is if you bought the product from a dispensary, there is likely THC in the product, if you did not buy it from a dispensary, there is likely little to no THC in the product.
Q. Why should employers request background checks on employees?
A. 30% of applicants admit to lying on their educational background, seven of every 100 applicants have a felony record and 30% of business failure is due to theft. It is important that an employer take the steps necessary to know who is caring for their customer base and contributing to a safe work environment for their employees.
Q. How long does it take to get a background check report on a new applicant?
A. Most reports are back within 24 hours, and some are instant. In cases where court searches are required, extensive checks can take a week or more.
Q. What is the benefit of pre-employment fit testing?
A. The purpose of fitness testing is to ensure your applicant’s ability to perform essential job tasks safely. This helps mitigate the possibility of potential injury.
Q. How long does a fit test take to complete?
A. Depending on the extent of the fitness test, a fit test can be completed in approximately 35 minutes to one hour.
Q. Do you need a prior appointment for Conspire! services?
A. Appointments are always given priority if you choose to make them, but we welcome walk-ins during regular business hours.