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 drug screening for a new job is something thought to only exist for government jobs. Not for 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.

Because the truth is: if you don’t require 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 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.

What Drugs Are Tested for in Pre-Employment Drug Screening?

There are two common types of drug screenings: 5-panel and 10-panel drug tests. 5-panel drug screenings look for cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamines, opiates, PCP, and marijuana. 10-panel drug tests screen for cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates, PCP, marijuana, propoxyphene, methadone, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. The 5-panel drug tests account 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 tests screen deeper, for recreational drugs and prescription drugs like Xanax, Valium, Rohypnol, Ativan, and some weight loss medication.

Can Someone Beat 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 include urine tests, hair follicle testing, breath alcohol testing, blood testing, saliva testing, and nail testing. While urine tests can show a week to ten days worth of information, hair and nail clippings 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.