Justifacts Answers Your Frequently Asked Drug Testing Questions

(Last Updated On: June 29, 2018)

drug testing

Drug abuse in the workplace is both a concern and an expensive problem. Drug abuse does not discriminate, it can be found in small businesses and large corporations. It can be found among blue collar and white collar workers, young and old, wealthy and poor.

The one consistent fact about drug abuse in the workplace is the cost. Impaired employees are absent 3 times more often to call off work, are 33% less productive when they do show up, and far more likely to be involved in workplace accidents or fatalities.

For this reason, it makes sense that about 57% of organizations are requiring drug testing as a part of the pre-employment background screening package. Of course, picking the drug screening program that works best for your organization can be a challenging process. Here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear.

If all we are doing is drug screening, do we still need to get authorizations and disclosures?

YES! Any report that you get from a background screening company (CRA) is regulated by the FCRA. This means that organizations do need authorizations and disclosures even if drug screening is the only background screening service you order.

Can applicants/employees “beat” a drug test?

There are a number of ways that an individual may try to falsify a drug test. Urine tests remain the most common types of drug test used for pre-employment screening purposes. Unfortunately, urine tests are also the most likely to be tampered with.

Common methods for altering results include:

  • Substituting a someone (or something’s) urine sample in place of one’s own
  • Adulterating a sample by adding a foreign substance such as dish soap, vinegar, bleach, etc…
  • Attempting to dilute a sample by consuming large amounts of water or adding water directly to a sample
  • Providing a “temperature out of range” sample, which indicates that the individual may have provided a false sample

Validity tests are performed on all specimens submitted for a drug test. These include tests for pH levels, Creatinine level, and specific gravity. Employers concerned with falsified tests may also want to consider alternative drug testing options. Alternative meaning hair testing or saliva testing. Although a more costly option, hair testing provides accurate information about potential long-term drug abuse patterns. Additionally, saliva testing is an alternative option. Because the entire testing process can be observed, saliva testing is very difficult to tamper with and is considered a more cost-efficient choice. Unfortunately, this option provides a narrow window of detection, typically only 1-48 hours.

What about false positives? Are drug tests reliable?

One of the most important aspects of any employment drug screening program is the use of a qualified medical review officer (MRO). An MRO will review every drug screen. If a drug screen returns a positive result the MRO will conduct an interview with the individual to determine if any prescription, over the counter medication, or even poppy seeds may have affected the individual’s drug screen results. MROs are specially trained and are able to use their expertise to represent both the needs of the donor and the ordering agency.

How much time should I give an applicant/employee to complete his/her drug test?

Time plays a critical factor in drug testing. To help avoid situations where a donor may try to flush his/her system, temporarily abstain from drug use or even obtain a false sample, it makes sense to give individuals as short a time frame as possible to complete their drug screen.

What about marijuana? How does our drug testing program deal with a drug that shows up on a drug screen well after the individual last used it? How does legalization affect our drug testing policy?

First, let’s deal with the urban legend about how long marijuana remains in one’s system. Rumors abound that marijuana can be detected 30+ days after use. Although extremely rare instances of this exist, typically use in chronic users is normally detected within 10 days of last use and for the occasional user within 3-4 days of last use.

The legalization of marijuana has prompted many organizations to take a second look at their drug screening policies. However, it is important to note that even in states where recreational and/or medicinal marijuana use has been legalized, it remains illegal under federal law. Furthermore, any federal employee or DOT regulated employee can still expect a zero tolerance policy when it comes to testing positive for marijuana use.

Are there automated options?

Electronic Chain of Custody (COC) forms and an online scheduling system are available that allows users to schedule tests, choose collection sites, set customized parameters that determine cutoff times and immediately email/text the COC to the applicant. Justifacts will seamlessly incorporate test results into the applicant’s background report.

For non-regulated industries, the option for instant testing can be used to provide rapid results.

A robust drug screening program can go a long way towards keeping employees and the people we serve safe and productive. For more information on how a Justifacts can help develop the right drug screening program to fit your needs, contact Justifacts or request information.


It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. We go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.


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