Questions and Answers

Drug Testing

Substance abuse prevention can and should be viewed as a common concern of employers, employees and students. Most people do not engage in illicit drug use or want to deal with the complications of working or studying with drug abusers. When misunderstandings about the testing process are clarified, drug testing has been proven a deterrent to illegal drug use and a way for workplaces and schools to be proactive in substance abuse prevention.

Why should schools drug test students?

    • Testing gives students a reason to say “no” when approached to use drugs.
    • Random drug testing applies only to students who volunteer to participate in extracurricular activities such as athletics or, in some schools, to student drivers.
    • Students who take leadership roles in the school community are role models and should be drug free.
    • Random student drug testing occurs during a medically valid time to intervene because youth become addicted more easily than adults, and their recovery is more difficult.
    • Most students don’t use drugs and have a right to safe and drug-free learning environments. School administrators need reasonable tools to stop drug users and drug dealers from ruining school for everyone.
    • Testing gives parents an opportunity for early intervention and treatment.

Is it an invasion of privacy to drug test students?

    • Drug testing is a proven, proactive deterrent to illicit drug use – if you don’t use illegal drugs, you have nothing to worry about.
    • Drug testing is a standard procedure that most people will experience at some point in their lives, especially when applying for a job. Certainly, athletes who want to compete at the collegiate or Olympic level should get used to the idea of drug testing.
    • If schools follow basic drug testing procedures, students will provide the sample in a private area with strict confidentiality procedures.
    • Other forms of drug testing, such as hair analysis, may be available.

What happens if a student has a positive drug test?

    • The positive tests are confirmed by a highly accurate scientific process and then reviewed by a physician who consults with the student to insure that the test is accurate and that there is no valid reason the student is testing positive from legitimate prescription drug use.
    • A positive drug test will be used to help students get counseling or treatment.
    • The results are not turned over to law enforcement, and they are not part of any record sent to colleges.
    • The results are strictly confidential under federal and/or state law.
    • Schools that implement proper policies provide checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the program and the dignity of the students.

Would implementing student drug testing take away from other important school resources?

    • Any school that receives federal education funding can use federal funds for drug testing. The Leave No Child Behind Act specifically authorizes the expenditure of federal education funds for student drug testing.
    • For the result achieved, drug testing is surprisingly inexpensive. The average cost per student is $19 per year not including lab fees.
    • Schools only need to test a few students to get the desired deterrent effect.
    • Student drug testing complements an already existing Student Assistance Program.

How does substance abuse affect the workplace?

    • A company can expect to experience higher absenteeism and more job-related accidents because of employees’ drug use.
    • Business owners lose an estimated $100 billion per year because of substance abuse.
    • Employees who use drugs are only two thirds as productive as nonusers, and their use contributes to increased thefts, damaged equipment and other unnecessary costs in the workplace.
    • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one in five workers report that they have had to work harder, redo work or cover for a co-worker, or have been put in danger or injured as a result of a fellow employee’s drinking.
    • Small business owners are especially vulnerable because they often do not have an established drug-free workplace policy, do not require new employees to submit to drug testing prior to employment and have smaller financial reserves to expend if an employee causes a job-related accident or injury while impaired.

Is workplace drug testing effective?

    • Employers have seen a decrease in workplace accidents, employee mistakes, absenteeism, and turnover after implementing testing.
    • Businesses in many states may also qualify for a 5 percent discount or more on their workers’ compensation premiums.
    • Businesses that implement a drug free workplace policy improve the working environment, employee morale and customer satisfaction.
    • Clear, consistent workplace substance abuse policies and employee drug education can: (1) create an informed workforce; (2) significantly reduce drug and alcohol abuse problems in the workplace; and (3) reach employees, their families, and their communities.

Are individual privacy rights violated by workplace drug testing?

    • The majority of employees don’t use drugs; those who make the choice to be employed are deciding to follow the workplace rules set by the employer.
    • Drug testing is highly confidential and does not subject the employee or the test results to public scrutiny.
    • Employees have the right to a drug free workplace where their productivity and safety are not compromised by another’s drug use.

Drug Testing Resources

Drug Free Workplace Resources