Pre-Employment Drug Screening 101

doctor's hand holding a bottle of urine sample in hospital background

Pre-Employment Drug Screening 101

For many, the idea of having to complete and pass a pre-employment drug screening for a new job is something thought to exist only for government jobs—not regular everyday jobs. However, more and more employers are including drug screening as a part of their interview process to ensure the applicant is truly the kind of person they want working for their company. Employers should consider making a drug screening a requirement for all job applicants because nowadays, it can be costlier and more of a hassle not to.

The truth is, if you don’t administer a pre-employment drug test, you don’t really know if your new employee will show up to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you want to know more about pre-employment drug screening, read on.

Why Is Pre-Employment Drug Screening Important?

No matter if your future employee will be doing desk work, talking to customers on the phone, or driving vehicles, illicit drug use and misused prescription drugs can seriously affect job performance. For working environments that involve operating heavy machinery, a worker under the influence of drugs can risk not only their health, but also the lives of other employees. It is estimated by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence that drug abuse costs employers about $81 billion a year. By not ensuring that an employee is clear-headed, a company is risking plenty: safety of workers and company property, money, and the reputation of the business.

What Drugs Are Tested In A Pre-Employment Drug Screening?

There are two common types of drug screenings: a 5-panel and a 10-panel drug tests. A 5-panel drug screening looks for cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates, PCP, and marijuana. A 10-panel drug test screens for cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates, PCP, marijuana, propoxyphene, methadone, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. The 5-panel drug test accounts for the most common types of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and marijuana. Prescription painkillers and other medication like Adderall, penicillin, novocaine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone may be detected. But some marijuana may not be detected, such as if the THC has been taken out which is common with medical marijuana. The 10-panel drug test screens more deeply for recreational drugs and prescription drugs like Xanax, Valium, Rohypnol, Ativan, and some weight loss medication.

Can Someone Cheat On A Pre-Employment Drug Screening?

This is a commonly-asked question because many people think that certain tactics can fool a drug test and manipulate the results for a job interview. If you take occasional recreational drugs, they can remain in your system more or less than others, and it depends on a person’s metabolism, the drug concentration or dosage, how often the drug was used, the type of drug, the type of drug test, and the sensitivity of the test. Drug test types can include urine tests, blood tests, hair follicle testing, breath alcohol testing, blood testing, saliva testing, and sweat testing. While urine tests can show a week to ten days worth of information, hair tests can provide information from 30 days to six months prior. Blood and saliva tests offer more information on immediate drug use, and work best if the applicant appears impaired at the time of screening.

Even if your employees only talk to customers on the phone and do not handle heavy machinery, looking into making a pre-employment drug screening a requirement for your job application process can go far to ensure you hire the right people for the job. Drug screening can tell you if the applicant uses drugs and if they might disrupt working processes, act inappropriately to customers, or put your other employee’s lives at stake. Protect your business and your workers with pre-employment drug screening.

At New Era Drug Testing, we provide companies with drug-free training and programs that they need to be DOT compliant, such as pre-employment drug screenings. If you have questions about becoming DOT compliant, please feel free to contact us!