Lots of people are still very confused about when you might face a drug test, how it’s actually done, and if you use drugs or other substances that can be picked up by drug test, where the danger points could be.
There’s also a lot of poor information out there, and I want to address all that right now. I’ve put everything you need to know to get them right here in a single piece.
We’re going to cover when you could face drug testing and the type of drug test you are most likely to face.
I’ll also talk to you about what exactly happens when you go to submit your sample, how the results are processed, and what happens if you fail.
Plus, crucially, I’ll tell you about the #1 danger situation you could face for employment purposes when a drug test could be administered on the spot, giving you no notice or time to prepare avoidance tactics.
When You Could Face A Drug Test
Most people are likely to face a drug test during the course of employment. Overwhelmingly, this will be during the recruitment process rather than on the job.
On-the-job drug testing is less common because it’s expensive and unless it’s done on a quota basis, it could be seen as discriminatory.
However, it definitely happens in some companies and industries, but usually more with reasonable suspicion after an incident or accident.
Away from employment, the obvious other places are law enforcement and the courts. These can be far more rigorous drug tests, taken at short notice and with more money invested in them. Hair drug testing and blood drug testing are most likely to be encountered in this environment.
Drug tests can also be commissioned for things like getting life insurance, being on cessation programs, having certain types of operations, or gaining other benefits. So it’s not just looking for drugs. For things like life insurance, it could be an alcohol test, a nicotine test, or an all-around drug test.
Outside of the legal system though, most people will encounter a drug test through employment or insurance.
The Types Of Drug Test You Could Face
The type of drug test you could face will be one of the following:
- Urine drug test
- Hair drug test
- Saliva drug test
- Blood drug test
You can almost forget about having a blood drug test. Unless something very serious is going on, then you will never face one.
Likewise, hair drug testing, it’s far less common than it used to be for employment purposes. But it could still happen, especially in some government settings, and a few notable companies where they still have very strong anti-drug policies.
During pre-employment, overwhelmingly, it will be urine sample drug testing, with some mouth swab drug testing if it’s done by a company employee (this is why oral drug tests are dangerous because anyone can do them after a few minutes of training).
On the job/on the spot testing is usually a mouth swab test, usually only conducted with suspicion, or after an incident, or you will be sent for a urine drug test.
Here’s What Happens When You Submit A Sample
Let’s quickly talk you through the process of what happens when you go to submit a sample.
Now, it could be submitting a sample during a job interview, so basically any location, on-the-job, or it could be going to visit a specialist test center, something like LabCorp or Quest.
In some big cities, LabCorp is doing an express check-in service. There’s nobody actually present at the reception; you just scan your government ID and it marks you as arrived. Then somebody will come and get you.
Basically, this is the process:
1. You check in and you are verified as the person the test is for. This is to stop someone else from turning up in your place to submit your sample.
2. You’ll be shown into the main room where you will sit down and be asked some questions. This will help them to rule out potential false positives, and get a bit of an understanding of any problems that could be thrown up. Don’t say too much here, and never admit to taking anything because you don’t think it will appear on the test.
3. Most drug tests are unsupervised, so you will not have anyone directly watching you. Supervised drug tests are very rare, and even then, they don’t just sit in front of you and stare, they are just in the room. With an unsupervised test, you will go behind a screen, or even into a separate room to submit your sample. So, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to submit a fake sample.
4. You’ll be given a cup, on which will be a temperature strip and a minimum fill level. Most drug test centers accept 2 fluid ounce specimens. However, because the drug testing companies realized the fakest urine is sold in 2 fluid ounce amounts, many then raised it to a 3 fluid ounces sample size. So make sure if you are using a fake sample that it’s at least 3 fluid ounces of liquid.
5. Your hand the sample back after you have done it, and they will check the temperature on the side. They often do this while you are present, as it has to be done within four minutes of you handing it over for legal reasons. This is to ensure that it’s within the temperature range of real human urine, which is usually between 96°F and 100°F. However, to allow for a couple of minutes of cooling, any sample above 90°F, and no higher than 100°F, has to be accepted (there are special synthetic urine products that can be heated up to the correct temperatures).
6. You’ll get the test results after about 24 hours. They may take a phone number or email address and contact you directly. However, that’s not always the case, they may just contact the person who commissioned the test, usually an employer. In rare circumstances, it can take 48 hours or a bit longer, but if it’s been more than three days and you haven’t heard, then there has been a problem.
Do You Always Submit Your Sample At A Specialist Centre?
It’s not always the case you submit your sample at a specialist center. In bigger cities, it’s almost always the case, but in smaller places, it’s not.
Sometimes the drug testing companies can hire premises, but often they will have mobile technicians go along to employers, or things like recruitment day locations, in order to collect the samples.
So don’t think that because you’re going for a job interview that you could be tested on the spot. Remember, oral drug testing can be done by anyone with five minutes of training, and you can test it on the spot, you don’t even need specialist intervention.
What Happens If You Fail?
If your sample shows a positive result, then you will be contacted first. So you will get a notice that there is a problem before the person who commissioned the test is contacted.
The reason for that is that they will want to ask more questions. Drug testing companies have to have a verification officer who will contact you to ask about false positives, anything else you could have taken, and the situation around your test. They are basically looking to demonstrate fairness and find out if it could be a false positive.
If they suspect the test was messed up, they will invite you back to do another. Or if it’s a false positive that they suspect, you will also be invited back.
Once they understand the situation, they would then contact the person who commissioned the test and tell them what the situation is. So if you fail, you may well be contacted if it’s a situation where it’s a suspected false positive scenario.
However, if they don’t suspect that, then you could just fail and be told you have failed either by the lab or by your employer (prospective or current).
I would always say at this point to demand a retest due to a potential false positive. It doesn’t matter what you state could have caused false positives (Google some relevant examples), just say you forgot to mention it. Anything you can to spin to get another test that will give you more time to get clean to pass.
This Is The #1 Danger Situation When Facing A Drug Test
I want to finish here by telling you about the number one danger situation when facing a drug test. For me, it’s the employment day. That’s when dozens of people go along to potentially be recruited.
Sometimes you will just go along and have a chat with someone, and then be forwarded on for a formal interview on the day or later, or it will be lots of candidates having formal interviews in one location throughout the day.
Whatever the structure, these are the occasions when a company is most likely to get the drug testing out of the way at the same time. Think about it, it makes sense rather than sending a dozen people off to different test centers. Why do that, when you can do them all on the day after the interview?
So if you are ever invited to a recruitment day, make sure that you work on the assumption you could face an oral or urine sample drug test right after the interview.
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