Your prospective employer wants to drug test you. Should you worry?

Your prospective employer wants to drug test you. Should you worry?

While pre-employment drug tests are usually only required for transportation and other safety-sensitive industries, employers do have the right to drug test as part of the hiring process.  The good news is if you’ve made it to the drug test and you haven’t been participating in any illegal activities, you most likely have the job.  However, this can still be a stressful process—even if you’ve been on your best behavior.

Employers will usually drug test in order to qualify employees for workers’ compensation, avoid any legal liabilities and ensure they maintain productivity.  If you’re asked to perform a drug test prior to employment, here’s what you can expect:

  • A urine drug test is the most commonly used test. Urinalysis shows the presence of drug residues that remain in the body after the effects of the drug have worn off.  Drugs that are screened for in a typical urine drug test for employment purposes include amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • A blood test measures the amount of alcohol or drugs in the blood at the time the blood is drawn.  Drugs that are screened for in a typical blood test for employment purposes include amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • A hair drug test provides a 90-day window of drug use. Hair doesn’t detect for alcohol use, but can be tested for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine.

There is no simple answer as to how long drugs will remain in your system, since the answer is influenced by different characteristics such as, the specific drug half-life, intensity of the usage, length of usage, tolerance, fluid intake, body size, body fat, metabolism, and the specific range which the drug testing lab uses to signify a “positive” for drug use. But the following table provides some general guidelines for the amount of time a drug can be detected by most standard drug tests:

 

Drug Detection Time
Alcohol 6-24 hours
Amphetamines 2-3 days
Barbituates 1 day to 3 weeks
Benzodiazepines 3-7 days
Cocaine 2-5 days
Codeine 3-5 days
Euphorics (MDMA, Ecstasy) 1-3 days
LSD 1-4 days
Marijuana (THC) 7-30 days
Methadone 3-5 days
Methaqualone 14 days
Opiates 1-4 days
Phencyclidine (PCP) 2-4 days
Steroids (anabolic) 14-30 days