Addiction | 7 min read

Drug testing in the workplace. 5 Things Everyone MUST know

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On September 2, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On June 25, 2019

Coke Nose
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Testing for Drugs in the Workplace

The first people that come to mind when one thinks of drugs are people living on the streets and teenagers who probably have nothing else to do. However, the truth is that most people crippled by drugs are working, fully functioning individuals with high-end jobs that pay them very well. Most high-end careers are the most affected because of the pressure and responsibility of pursuing certain paths.

More organizations are implementing random and periodic drug testing in workplace programs to ensure the competency of their employees at all times.

Drug testing in the workplace is conducted differently depending on the employer’s goals, costs, and test effectiveness. Different tests show the presence of various drugs and thus require different sampling techniques.

Here are a few of the most common samples that are asked for during a drug test:

 1. Urine

Urine samples are usually used to detect the presence of drug metabolites in the body. This is because urine is an end product that contains waste from the metabolism of drugs. The urine test doesn’t indicate current drug use but shows the use of a particular within the hours or days leading to the test. Consequently, urine tests are unreliable when testing for alcohol as it is quickly eradicated from the system in the form of urine. Other drugs are, however, easily detected in urine.

  2. Hair

Using hair samples to test for the presence of drugs is the most accurate method as it provides information on drugs that might have been used as far back as 90 days. However, it does not provide information on the level of intoxication and can only be used to show that a particular drug has been used in the past. The presence of drugs such as alcohol cannot be confirmed using hair tests.

 3. Sweat

This method involves placing a testing patch on the skin, such as that of the armpits, for an extended period. The patch is lined with a protective membrane which prevents contamination of the patch by dirt and other contaminants that may interfere with the sample. It is one of the rare methods used in drug testing.

 4. Blood

Blood tests provide an accurate measure of the drug that is actively running through a person’s bloodstream and consequently could also measure the level of intoxication. Blood samples can be used as better indicators of drug presence and concentration than urine.

5. Breath

This is the most common method used to check for blood alcohol levels and, thus, the level of intoxication. The person being tested blows into a device known as a breathalyzer which contains ampules dissolved in chemicals that change color once alcohol is detected in the breath. It is ethanol, which is the main alcohol, that is identified in the breath. A blood alcohol concentration of about 0.04 is a positive drug test in most states.

6. Saliva

This test gives information about drugs such as alcohol that may have recently been ingested. The use of oral fluids is one of the most reliable methods as it is better for detecting substances such as cannabis and cocaine, and the results are harder to alter and easy to collect. It’s also a necessary test when one is looking to determine the current use of a drug and the level of intoxication.

1.   Pre-Employment Drug Testing


Some organizations require a job applicant to take a drug test before being allowed interviews for certain positions. This is because drug use may impair excellent performance for individual institutions like hospitals and lead to serious life-threatening issues.

Places such as industries where machinery is used also require drug testing before employment to avoid mishandling of machinery and injury, which is likely when one is under the influence of drugs.

2. Work-Related to Drug Testing

Individual institutions require that employees partake in a random or periodic drug test after a given amount of time. This is done to ensure that service delivery is efficient and prevents injury and accidents in the workplace.

Drug testing also works as a powerful buffer against the use of drugs while working in the institution. This is especially true for places where drug testing is done randomly; thus, employees never know when to expect it. The use of illicit drugs in the workplace accounts for about 65% of accidents in the workplace, and about 50% of compensation claims are associated with drug use.

3. Safety-Related Drug Testing

Certain professionals cannot function when they are under the influence. People who work as doctors, chefs, caretakers, and others are the most common people to undergo drug testing. Drugs impair proper functioning, and so in the case of an intoxicated doctor, that means poor diagnosis, wrong drug prescriptions, and life-threatening mistakes in the operating room.

It could mean improperly cooked food for a chef, leading to health issues. Dangerous handling equipment also requires a sober and fresh mind, and so personnel must confirm that they will be able to handle material by taking drug tests.

4. College or Professional Athletic Drug Testing

To maintain the ‘integrity of the game,’ more and more sports programs and colleges are embracing the use of drug tests to determine the competency of their athletes.

This comes after athletes started using performance-enhancing drugs, which put other competitors at a disadvantage. College programs that sponsor athletes also conduct drug tests as part of the selection process.

5. Post-Accident Drug Testing

In accident cases conducting a drug test is essential when determining whether or not drugs were involved in making a conviction or for insurance. However, specific criteria are followed when deciding whether or not a drug test is required after an accident. Examples of factors include fatalities, damage to property of a certain value or insured property, and citations from the police.

Post-accident drug testing should, however, be conducted within a maximum of 12 hours for accurate results. It should also be noted that a drug test that reads positive is not an indication of drug use during the accident.

 What if I Test Positive in the Workplace?

Ascendant New York is a drug and alcohol detox facility in New York, Manhattan, offering inpatient and outpatient programs. We are a team of highly qualified and skilled healthcare professionals to deliver extraordinary and efficient services to all those who walk through our doors seeking treatment.

Detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of the drugs in it and adjust to a life free of addictive substances. It’s’ considered the first step toward sobriety, and its purpose is to ensure that the withdrawal symptoms are safely managed when an individual ceases to take drugs or alcohol. The process of detoxification is entirely different for every individual, but it generally involves three significant steps:


Evaluation where the type and amount of drug in an individual is determined together with a comprehensive review of their medical and psychiatric histories, necessary in setting up a treatment plan.


Stabilizing a patient with medical and psychological therapy prevents any harm to the patient.


Preparing initiation of treatment where the patient is familiarised with the treatment process and the expected outcomes.

Detoxification can either be inpatient, for patients who’ve’ had an extended dependency and may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, or outpatient, for patients who may not necessarily suffer from vigorous withdrawal and don’t’ need strict monitoring.

Some of the Withdrawal Symptoms Patients go Through are Like;

Hallucinations, tremors, muscle aches, joint aches, paranoia, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, psychiatric and medical help during detoxification is essential to alleviate these symptoms. A detox is consequently requisite for a full recovery, and studies show that patients have lower chances of relapse when it precedes drug rehabilitation. This is because the physical aspects of addiction must be dealt with, and the body is given time to recover before psychological and emotional treatment is initiated. Medical drug detox is, therefore, the safest way to cleanse the body of drug toxins as it is done in a safely monitored environment.

We, at Ascendant New York, understand that the drug and alcohol detox process is unique to every individual depending on factors like the type of drug, duration, and severity of addiction, and we, therefore, strive to screen and devise suitable programs for each patient, thereby personalizing and customizing treatment based on each patient’s’ needs.

Professional Team at Your Service

Our team consists of expertly trained medical physicians, nurses, behavioral technicians, clinicians, and substance abuse counselors who are devoted to creating a safe, comfortable and supportive environment to ensure the smooth recovery of our patients. We provide a private and luxurious setting for treatment at our facility, and we highly value our patient’s privacy and dignity.

We also believe that the treatment should not only be physical but be comprehensive and holistic and therefore also strive to cater to our patient’s’ mental, social, and psychological health and to walk with our patients throughout their journeys towards sobriety and full recovery.

In Conclusion

You don’t have to take drug tests if they are not your cup of coffee. Random drug tests may be administered for various reasons. Employers may administer drug screening to their employees during or after employment. Similarly, law enforcement may conduct a drug test to determine whether you have exceeded the legal limit. Your insurance company may also administer drug screening to assess whether the accident is insurable. There are many ways through which a drug test may be carried out, which include collecting a specimen of your hair follicles, blood, urine, or saliva samples during the screening. If they subject you to drug screening during drug detection times, your test will likely return positive for drug use. Drug screening detects drugs like opiates, alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. While there may be a false positive, the drug tests are reliable. Further tests are necessary to confirm a positive drug test.

Testing positive for drugs in the workplace may mean that you need to seek help. The road to being sober is long and stressful, but drug detox centers can help make it bearable. Drug abuse affects a significant number of people today. One may lose a job due to continued drug abuse in the workplace, affecting their ability to work. Similarly, alienating those with a positive drug test barely helps. Helping them recover from drug and alcohol abuse in detox centers and supporting them through detoxification is the most feasible solution.

At Ascendant New York, we are a team of medical professionals that will help evaluate your medical condition and guide you to a full recovery. We are located in the heart of Manhattan and assist in providing a great and safe environment for those seeking a comfortable and peaceful environment free from substance abuse. This is important in creating a conducive environment for a full recovery as that is free from substance-use triggers.

We have designed a unique detoxification program for each patient and monitor you through the program. In our care, you get multidimensional support through our professional support system, which includes experienced counselors, care providers, facilities, doctors, and an in-house professional chef. We also help educate you on the reasons behind drug addiction and ways to counter any temptation towards using them in the future. We are conveniently located in the heart of Manhattan for easy access.

Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse and seeking drug or alcohol addiction treatment in CT or NY? Our New York treatment facility is a safe, comfortable facility to break free from addiction and begin your life of sobriety.

Contact us today, and we’ll help you or your loved one fully recover and experience a healthy life.

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Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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  1. Reilly J. Drug Testing & Safety: What’s’ the Connection? Occupational Health & Safety. Published September 1, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2022.