Drug Testing

How Is Drug Testing Useful?

Over the years, drug testing has become more prevalent in a variety of situations: for pre-employment screenings, for drug rehab centers, for concerned parents. While drug testing has benefits, many argue that it is an ineffective (and expensive) tool. So how is drug testing useful?

Main Types of Drug Testing

While there are numerous forms of drug testing, the most common are:

  • urine testing
  • saliva testing
  • blood testing
  • hair testing

Typically, these screen for a number of different substances at once, including marijuana, benzodiazepines, opiates, amphetamines and cocaine.

The Pros

Drug testing definitely has a number of benefits. Some of these include:

  • Knowing that a drug test is imminent can sometimes make a person choose to refrain from using substances.
  • For employers, drug tests can give insight into a potential employee’s drug habits.
  • A positive drug screen can alert concerned parents or family members to a drug problem and give them the opportunity to intervene if and when necessary.

 

The Cons

There are also a number of downsides to drug testing. Some of these include:

  • Drug testing, both from an at home and a pre-employment standpoint, is expensive.
  • Different drugs stay in the system for different lengths of time, so a drug test isn’t necessarily an accurate assessment of someone’s overall drug habits. For example, MDMA (also known as ecstasy) will only show up on a urine or blood screen for 3-4 days after use. So if a drug test is performed after that period, even if the person had used MDMA the previous week, the test would come out negative.
  • False positives. Certain medications (such as certain anxiety and ADHD medications) can show up on drug tests and cause a false positive.
  • False negatives. There are a number of products available to “mask” certain drugs on a drug test. If a person knows they are going to be screened, they can easily obtain one of these products (often called “cleanses”) to pass the drug screen.
  • Drug tests also need to be witnessed to ensure the most accurate results. Testees can, and often do, obtain urine or other bodily fluids from someone else in order to pass a drug test.

    The Final Say

    While drug testing has its place, it is not necessarily the most effective way to get answers about someone’s drug habits. If you suspect your child or loved one might be using drugs, the best start is to open up a conversation and let them know that help is available should they need it.

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