Nationwide Study Finds 65% of Surveyed Respondents Abstain Use for Less Than a Month Before Workplace Drug Testing

After a nationwide survey by Health Street, 65% of participants admitted they abstain from marijuana use for less than a one month period before a scheduled drug test.
MARIE ABENDROTH
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What Period Should Your Drug Test Cover?

According to a nationwide study conducted by Health Street, a staggering 65 percent of participants admitted they abstain from marijuana use for less than a one month period before a scheduled drug test. Additionally, over 70% of respondents said they go back to using marijuana less than a month after being screened.

The results clearly show that focusing only on scheduled pre-employment screening isn’t enough to stop prospective employees from using drugs. In fact, complementary research reveals that more than 75 percent of drug users are also employed, displaying a clear dichotomy between expectations and realities when it comes to testing-based drug use deterrence.

Drug use in the workplace raises safety risks for your customers, employees, as well as the reputation of your company. Plus, employees who use drugs statistically account for more missed days of work, more worker’s compensation claims, and more workplace violence.

A drug-free workplace simply isn’t realistic if pre-employment urine testing is the only drug screening protocol used. Bolstering your drug-free workplace program with different kinds of drug tests and including random testing will ensure your efforts make an impact.

Effective Workplace Drug Prevention Measures

Random Urine Testing

Random urine testing is among the most effective ways to deter employee drug use. While urine drug tests don’t have a long window of detection — typically topping out at a three-day detection time for casual marijuana users — if employees are subject to a test at any time, they’re encouraged to stay drug-free on a permanent basis. A pre-employment drug test can be planned around, but random drug testing ensures those who passed pre-employment screening don’t continue to abuse your drug-free workplace policy.

Our random drug pool programs use a computer-generated random selection process, ensuring there is no bias toward specific employees. After a staff member is chosen at random and tested, they’re put back into the same general pool of employee names that could be chosen again— meaning even those recently tested can potentially come up for a random drug screening at any time.

Quarterly Hair Testing

Quarterly hair testing is an effective way to test for drug use year-round and ensure your employees are maintaining a safe work environment. A hair follicle drug test detects drugs taken in the past 5 to 90 days, whereas a urine test only detects drugs taken in the past 5 or so days. Therefore, quarterly hair testing guarantees a drug free workplace.

Hair follicle testing is the best way to identify repeated, chronic, or binge drug usage over an extended time frame. It picks up on nearly all common street and prescription drugs, with panels ranging from 5 to 17, so that nothing gets missed. Metabolite deposits caused by drug use penetrate into the hair follicles and are unable to be removed by shampoo or dye, making this method extremely effective at testing for drug use within a long detection time. Hair from anywhere on the body can be tested, meaning head hair is not imperative for participating in hair testing.

Promotion Testing

Promotion drug testing combines the benefits of hair testing with random testing and pre-employment screening. In this screening, employers perform a hair drug test on an employee when they want to recommend them to a higher position, and when the promotionis contingent upon passing the drug test. An employee wouldn’t want to jeopardize their recognition for hard work and loyalty, just as an employer doesn’t want to reward that type of behavior. Promotion testing incentivizes employees to remain drug free, especially since hair drug tests have a longer detection window, and they never know when they’re going to be selected for a promotion.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

No matter which type of test you choose and what period you plan to cover, you should always have reasonable suspicion drug testing as part of your drug-free workplace program. While an employee’s actions or behaviors may indicate possible intoxication, drug and alcohol testing makes the situation objectively.

Pre-Employment Testing

Although pre-employment screening alone isn’t enough to be a fully effective deterrent, it’s still an important aspect of any drug-free workplace program. It sends a strong message to prospective employees about the type of behavior your company will and will not tolerate. The more panels in your screening, the more drug-free your workplace will be. Considering today’s opiate crisis, a drug test that includes more panels, such as the 12 Panel or above, is necessary for screening prescription painkillers like oxycodone, methadone, and codeine.

The ROI of an Effective Drug Screening Program

While pre-employment drug screening is a legal requirement for many employers, it shouldn’t be the only requirement. Of the respondents to our survey, 73% returned to marijuana use less than a month after being screened. Clearly, more needs to be done if you seek to maintain a drug-free workplace. Plus, research shows that a fully comprehensive drug-free workplace program has benefits for companies, financially.

Effective drug testing has been shown to result in greater productivity and lower labor expenses and insurance costs. It also reduces absenteeism, theft, violence, liability, worker’s compensation claims and workplace violence. A drug screening practice for new employees can also improve employee retention, as candidates who use drugs will often self-select out of even applying for the job.

No matter what drug screening protocol you decide on, Health Street offers a wide range of employee drug tests you can order to meet your company’s unique needs. We use our own technology to facilitate random drug testing pools for workforces of any size. Order the tests you need online today so you can start reaping the benefits of a drug-free work environment.


1Wickizer, Thomas M et al. “Do drug-free workplace programs prevent occupational injuries? Evidence from Washington State.” Health services research vol. 39,1 (2004): 91-110. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00217.x

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Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.

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Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.