A large number of companies now perform pre-employment drug tests in order to filter out candidates who use illicit drugs. Not just large scale businesses, but small scale enterprises too are now keen to create a safe working environment and reduce associated costs of workplace drug abuse. If your company is currently in the process of developing a pre-employment drug testing policy, it is time you learn about the most effective drug tests:

Pre-Employment Drug Testing Method #1: Urine Test

Urine tests are the most common method of pre-employment drug testing. This method is painless, hassle-free, and cost-effective.

Urine tests can be conducted at one of the employer’s locations under the supervision of a state-certified lab. A doctor or lab technician analyzes the urine sample of a person. Urine analysis can help determine whether a candidate has used specific drugs in the past few weeks.

Urine screens can detect past drug usage even if the effect of drugs has worn off; in the event of heavy drug use in the past, a urine test can detect the drug for a longer duration of time.

The most common drugs tested in a pre-employment urine test include the following:

a) Cocaine
b) Methamphetamine
c) Opiates
d) Phencyclidine (PCP)
e) Barbiturates
f) Benzodiazepines
g) Marijuana

A urine test can also detect recent alcohol and nicotine.

Most companies perform a 5-panel urine test that screens for PCP, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. For a detailed analysis of a candidate’s drug usage, an employer can perform a 10-panel urine test.

Do keep in mind that a urine sample will test positive only if the amount of drug is above a certain ‘cut-off level.’ The cut-off-level is measured in nanograms per milliliter; it helps prevent false-positive test results. For instance, when a person has not used an illicit drug but consumed an edible item with a legally permissible concentration of hemp, opium or coca.

Candidates undergoing urine tests should be asked if they are taking any supplements, prescription medicines, herbal remedies, etc. Certain supplements and medicines can cause false-positive urine test results.

Pre-Employment Drug Testing Method #2: Saliva Test

Oral fluid or saliva testing is the second most popular method after urine testing. At times, a saliva test is referred to as ‘mouth swab test.’

This drug testing method can help detect recent drug usage. Most saliva tests can detect drug usage within the last two days.

Gathering samples is quick and easy. The candidate should be advised not to eat or drink anything for at least 10 minutes prior to the collection of a saliva sample. One of the main advantages of saliva drug testing method is that the samples cannot be easily adulterated or substituted.

The most common drugs tested in a pre-employment saliva test are:

a) Cocaine
b) Ecstasy
c) Benzodiazepines
d) Barbiturates
e) Opiates
f) Amphetamines
g) Methamphetamines
h)Phencyclidine (PCP)

A saliva test can be more effective than urine tests in pinpointing a specific substance. However, it can only be used to check for recent drug usage.

Pre-Employment Drug Testing Method #3: Blood Test

Blood tests are not as reliable as urine tests for detecting drug usage over a long duration of time. It is an invasive drug testing method and restricted in some states for job-applicant testing.

A pre-employment blood test is performed primarily to check the amount of drug present in a candidate’s system at the time the test is completed.

A blood test can detect the current levels of alcohol and drugs such as:

a) Cocaine
b) Opiates
c) Amphetamines
d) Methamphetamines
e) Marijuana

Since the blood sample is drawn with the help of a needle by lab personnel, chances of adulteration or substitution are negligible.

Pre-Employment Drug Testing Method #4: Hair Test

A hair follicle test can provide a long-term picture of a candidate’s drug use. Even if a candidate has abused illicit drugs several months ago, a hair follicle test may detect it easily.

A pre-employment hair follicle test can be used to detect illegal drugs such as:

a) Cocaine
b) Opiates
c) Phencyclidine
d) Methamphetamine
e) Marijuana

A hair test is not helpful for detecting the use of alcohol.

Since the hair sample is collected in full view of lab personnel, there is hardly any risk of hair adulteration or substitution.

Final Words

Make an informed decision; you may consider your company’s specific drug screening requirements, unit drug test cost, how soon the results are made available and whether the test outcomes can be fully trusted. Before conducting pre-employment drug testing, make sure your drug testing policy complies with federal and state laws concerning applicant drug testing. In Nevada, for instance, pre-employment cannabis tests will no longer be legal from January 2020. NYC too has banned pre-employment drug testing for marijuana, THC. In some states, all of the above-mentioned drug testing methods may not be legal or there may be certain restrictions in place. In any case, you would have to follow proper consent procedures for conducting pre-employment drug tests. Some states require employers to hire state-certified laboratories for conducting such tests.

Author's Bio: 

I am writing to introduce myself as Leon Reingold. My passion includes educating and helping businesses and households on all the issues related to drug abuse and drug testing.