Addiction | 3 min read

Drug testing in the workplace. FAQ

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

Best New Jersey Substance Abuse Counseling
Reading Time: 3 minutes

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. Drug screening detects drugs like opiates, alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. While there may be a false positive, the drug tests are reliable. Every person should know the answers to these frequently asked questions.

1.   Who Is Allowed Information From a Drug Test?

Like any other information regarding personal health, drug tests are considered private information. Therefore, there are restrictions on how the data should be handled and to who it should be handed. Before undertaking a drug test, you will probably be required to sign certain documents, which shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The only person who should be allowed to review drug test results is the employer, and for this, one usually signs a release document (to permit the results to be sent to their employer).

 2.   Are Drug All Drug Tests Accurate?

Drug testing in the workplace pills

Most drug testing in the workplace companies is reliable, but there is still a chance that a test may read positive for something that isn’t present. In addition, even though better, more reliable tests could be done, most of them are costly and take more processing time.

It is, therefore, essential for employees to give full details on prescription drugs that they are on as some could influence test results. Drug tests don’t only test for the presence of a drug in its pure form but also its metabolic forms. The following are some of the compounds that could lead to false positive drug readings:

  •  Vicks Formula
  • NyQuil
  • Herbal tea
  • Poppy seed

 3.   What Drugs Can Be Detected in Drug Tests?

Tests are usually conducted to reveal drugs that may interfere with efficient workplace activities and could lead to life-threatening results. Therefore, drugs such as antibiotics and painkillers are usually not monitored. Usually, drug tests are for detecting alcohol, Amphetamines (meth and ecstasy), cannabis (also known as weed or marijuana), cocaine, opiates (heroin and codeine), and phencyclidine. Drug tests are not restricted to these drugs only. These are just the most commonly tested drugs.

An employer may test for more than one drug, including those physicians have prescribed.

4.   Is It Legal?

No law prohibits employers from running drug testing in the workplace, so it is legal.

5. Will the Drugs I Took a Year Ago Be Detected?

Different drugs take different periods to be destroyed by the body. Some drugs, such as alcohol, are broken down quickly, while others could take years before they’re completely eradicated from one’s system. This explains why tests for blood alcohol levels in accident situations are carried out within two hours.

The following are estimated periods within which drugs can be detected even after the effects have subsided:

  •  Alcohol – 2 hours
  • Morphine – 3 days
  • Cocaine – 10 days
  • Heroine – 1 day
  • Amphetamines – 2 days
  • Marijuana – 4 days to several weeks depending on the frequency of use
  • Methadone – 3 days
  • Phencyclidine – 7 days

A drug-free work environment ensures productivity in the workplace and reduces the costs incurred due to lack of productivity and drug-related accidents. Besides conducting drug tests, employers should also work to provide their employees; it’s necessary to help in case they are tested positive for drugs and education against drug use.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and seeking Connecticut or New York detox programs, Ascendant is here to help. Reach out today.

To report a bug, please contact our digital team.

Was this article helpful? Follow our blog for more information about substance use, addiction, and recovery. Recent posts include topics such as getting addicted to EtOH and college drinking.

Ascendant New York Editorial Guidelines

Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.

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

Find Out if You Are Covered by Insurance


  1. SAMHSA. Federal Laws and Regulations. Published July 18, 2022. Accessed September 2, 2022.