Drug Testing: The Debate Continues

When you’re indulging in drugs with friends over loud music and excited chit chatter, it never hits you that there could be consequences. A job opening, the random visa application interview, compulsory drug tests for members of the security service, or the routine testing for international sporting events, it can all go terribly wrong when you least expect it. But as they say, “It’s all fair in love and war,” as there are reasons why routine tests are carried out. The most obvious one being that drugs impair the senses and reduce a person’s reaction time thereby placing people lives and affairs at great risk. But that’s just a tip of the iceberg, there’s more to it!

What Is Drug Testing?

A drug test is basically a scientific analysis of a biological sample for the sole purpose of determining the presence or otherwise of prohibited chemical compounds. It could be a specimen of hair, blood, breath, urine, sweat, saliva and even semen. In the world of professional sport, it is somewhat mandatory for athletes to submit themselves to testing. Users have been proven to enjoy an unfair advantage over non-users by virtue of many different types of performance enhancement drugs. Besides that, many of the limitations on substance abuse are meant to protect users from the life threatening effects of supplements and steroids, which have cost several their careers and their lives.

Legal Ethics

Ethical concerns have been raised over workplace drug testing. Despite the fact that the purpose sought by testing justifies the violation of people’s rights to privacy and freedom and security of the person, it is the means employed that are contentious. Many argue on the basis that there lacks conclusive evidence on the infallibility of workplace testing with a lot of questions left unanswered. What safeguards have been put in place to ensure that results aren’t doctored, fabricated or manufactured to suit other people’s selfish interests? What elements of the procedure -from the taking of the sample to the laboratory testing- guarantee flawless, untainted results? Regardless, in the interests of safety and security, it is imperative that regular testing is carried out on people such as truck drivers, construction workers, and healthcare professionals.

The Criminal Justice System

So, the cops didn’t find any drugs in your possession when you were arrested and this allows you a huge sigh of relief. But trust me, I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were you, as sooner or later, the law is going to catch up with you. In places like Arizona and the District of Columbia, testing positive for an illegal drug can result in the refusal of bail. Further, persons sentenced to correctional supervision and probation are supposed to submit to testing or risk having their supervised release revoked.

The Different Testing Methods

* Urine drug test

The most commonly used method. It might seem a little intrusive at first, but I assure you, it’s very private and quick. It comes at a relatively low cost and involves the collection, sealing and laboratory testing of samples. Results can be general with indications of a wide spectrum of drug components or direct in the case of screened drugs of real significance.

* Hair tests

More recent than urine tests. Owing to scientific evidence indicating that most drug residue is discarded in skin pores, laboratory testing shifted its focus to hair drug tests. According to experts, the results of hair follicle tests are more conclusive, with far less false positives than urine sample tests. Which is why courts accept such forensic evidence as admissible, authoritative evidence. Detectable substances include cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine.

* Sweat, saliva and blood testing

Because of the high cost, and technical expertise required, very few agencies prescribe these routine tests. However, blood testing is considered as the most accurate method and very rarely do results produce false positives.

Drug testing is a reality we all have to accept whether we like it or not. And whilst the legal basis of such intrusive methods has been challenged and debated in recent court decisions, it appears there’s no escape. Drugs abuse is a problem in today’s society, and without adequate regulation in the form of testing, there’s no telling what the future holds for mankind.