Myth Busters: Shedding Light on Common Misconceptions that Could Impact Your Choice of Drug Testing Options

Myth vs. Truth Sign After a scathing report in 1971 by Congressmen Robert Steele (R-CT) and Morgan Murphy (D-IL) highlighting a heroin epidemic among servicemen in Vietnam, the U.S. military announced that it would begin urinalysis testing of all returning servicemen (known as Operation Golden Flow). During this program, 4.5 percent of the returning servicemen tested positive for heroin (a drug that is only detected for a few hours in urine). That is what many consider to be the beginning of workplace drug testing in America. The industry was poised to explode when President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12564 stating a goal of achieving a Drug-Free Federal Workplace. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 required contractors of the federal government to maintain a drug-free workplace.

Since 1988, the “Myth Machine” has churned out some pretty interesting lines that I hear on a regular basis. These rumors are generally based on a misunderstanding of technology or are just the repetition of bad information.

This article hopes to dispel some popular myths, based on industry experience with urine, oral fluid, and hair testing, and in turn, will help you and your clients better understand the testing options.

Myth #1: Random testing isn’t necessary if a pre-employment testing policy is in place.

Fact: This is a common misconception among customers. What they don’t realize is that according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 10 percent of full-time workers are substance abusers. Said another way, 68.9 percent of the estimated 15.4 million drug users in the United States are employed either full or part-time. Certainly, some of these individuals are working in areas where pre-employment testing doesn’t take place. It is also safe to assume that some of these individuals have been able to manipulate their usage patterns to avoid detection or to adulterate the specimen that they give during the pre-employment test. Random drug testing programs offer a deterrent that causes employees to pause when faced with the choice to make a bad decision. While random testing might not always deter addicts, it offers organizations a means to detect use. The deterrent value is the most obvious benefit of a random test because the employee doesn’t know when it’s coming. This can prevent dishonest employees from avoiding, diluting or substituting their specimens.