What You Need to Know About Pre-employment Drug Testing

What You Need to Know About Pre-employment Drug Testing
22 May 2017

Pre-employment Drug Testing

As part of the job application process, applicants might be screened for alcohol and drug use before being offered a position or as a contingency of the job offer. If you are an employee, you might also be tested for drugs. Which drug tests do they perform and what type of drugs do they screen for?

Pre-employment Alcohol and Drug Screening

For you to be offered a certain job, you might have to pass a pre-employment drug test. The laws of testing for drugs vary from one state to another. For instance, if the US Department of Transportation regulates an industry, the drug test is covered by the state or federal drug testing requirements.
However, in other states, there are limits regarding when and how drug tests can be performed.

Breath Alcohol Tests

Breath alcohol testing gadgets – commonly referred to as breathalyzers – are used to measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. However, this test only shows your current level of intoxication, not your past indulgences. How does the test work? When you blow your breath into the device, a number shows up indicating the level of alcohol in your blood.

Employers use breathalyzers in the following situations:

  • Some US DOT industries have mandatory alcohol testing for their employees
  • An employer can conduct this test if there is probable cause: signs that an employee shows up to work drunk.
  • Random testing might be conducted sometimes
  • After an accident has occurred, an alcohol test might be conducted to establish the person who was at fault

Blood Drug and Alcohol Tests

A blood test can be used when employees or job applicants are being tested for illegal drugs. The test measures the alcohol/drug level in your blood at the time that the blood is taken. In a typical screening for the purposes of employment, the drugs that are screened for include amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, and cocaine.

blood testing

A blood screen is the only test that an employer can use to determine legal intoxication. Drugs affect each person differently, so the best way to pass a drug test is to avoid them completely. A number of variables affect how long a drug remains detectable, including your hydration, the way you ingested it, its half-life, and how often you use it.

However, the detection period for drugs is very short when it comes to blood tests because they leave the body through urine. Should you be worried about false positives? Although anyone taking a drug test should be wary of false positives, a second test eliminates any doubt.

Hair Drug Tests

This test provides a ninety-day window for drug use. However, it does not measure any current drug use, only past use. Hair drug tests do not detect alcohol use but can be used to test for marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and cocaine.

Urine Drug Tests

This test is used when looking for alcohol and drug abuse among job applicants. This test, also known as urinalysis, shows the presence of drugs long after their effects have worn off. Urine tests can be used to screen for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and nicotine.

As part of pre-employment screening, urine tests might be necessary. Different employers use different drug test kits to test urine samples.

Mouth Swab Drug Tests

This test is also known as an oral fluid or saliva test. Saliva is collected from inside your mouth and tested for the presence of drugs. This test can detect drugs that have been in your system for a few hours up to two days. Mouth swab tests are easy conduct because they the least invasive.

Media Courtesy via Wikimedia


Waqar Tariq

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