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HomeHealthPros and Cons of Drug Testing in the Workplace: Things to Know

Pros and Cons of Drug Testing in the Workplace: Things to Know

Workplaces are different today than they were even a generation ago. In order to maintain a safe and productive work environment, it is important for employers to have a clear policy on drug and alcohol use. Drug and alcohol testing can help to deter employees from using substances on the job, and it can also help to identify those who may be struggling with addiction. Training can also play a role in creating a drug-free workplace.

Types of Drug & Alcohol Test Services:

There are several different types of drug and alcohol tests that employers can use to screen employees or test for on-the-job use. The most common types of tests are urine tests, hair tests, saliva tests, and blood tests. 

  • Urine Tests: The particular drug screen test is the most commonly used type of drug test. They are relatively easy to administer and can detect a wide range of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and opiates. The tests are also relatively inexpensive. 

The main disadvantage of these tests is that they only detect recent substance use. For example, marijuana may only be detectable in a person’s system for a few days after he or she uses it. 

  • Hair Tests: Hair tests are less common than these types of tests but they offer a number of advantages. 
    • First, hair follicle tests can detect much longer periods of substance abuse than urine tests—up to 90 days for some drugs. 
    • Second, hair follicle tests are tamper-resistant; it is very difficult to cheat on this type of test. 

The main disadvantage of hair follicle testing is that it is more expensive than urine testing. In addition, this type of test requires specialized equipment and trained personnel to administer it properly. 

  • Saliva Tests: Saliva tests are another option for employer drug screening programs. They have many of the same advantages as urine tests—they’re easy to administer and can detect a wide range of substances—but with one major exception: they can only detect recent substance use (generally up to 24 hours). 
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are the least common type of drug test because they’re invasive and require trained personnel to administer them properly. They’re also the most expensive type of test; however, they offer one major advantage over other types of drug screens: they can detect extremely small amounts of drugs in a person’s system—even trace amounts that might not be detectable by other methods. 

Pros & Cons of Pre-Employment Testing:

Pre-employment screening can ensure that only clean applicants are hired; however, it may also deter some qualified applicants from applying at all. Random screens may be more effective at deterring on=the=job drug use, but they can also lead to a more hostile work environment. 

When considering whether or not to implement pre=employment drug testing, employers should weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Some potential pros include : 

• Potentially lower health insurance premiums

• Improved employee productivity (if fewer employees use illicit substances)

• Fewer workplace accidents (if employees using illicit substances are screened out) • Reduced risk of violence or theft

• Fewer workers’ compensation claims

Some potential cons include: 

• Deterring qualified applicants from applying (if potential applicants believe that they will not pass the test)

 • Creating a hostile work environment (if employees believe that they are being treated like criminals)  

• Intruding on employee privacy


When deciding which type of test to use, people should consider their budget as well as their specific needs. For example, if an employer wants to screen for marijuana use specifically, a urine test would likely be sufficient; however, if an employer wants to screen for all illicit substances, a hair follicle test might be necessary. 



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