The War on Drugs
Working in this industry, I occasionally get to see our simple actions do a bit of good. While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes a failed drug test is the first step towards rehab, and a person taking control of their lives, and those moments make this work rewarding. Outside of these isolated incidents, it’s difficult for us to see how exactly we can aid in the greater good. The big picture of where the drug testing industry is most needed in America continues to point to the American War on Drugs. Simple research on the war on drugs will lead you towards the popular opinion that it’s a failure. Briefly, when we refer to the war on drugs we are speaking directly to the decades of federal policy which has lead to an explosion in incarceration rates, a strain on our prison system, and a large amount of resources spent towards an assault that hasn’t provided any empirical proof that it’s working. In the same breath we support the diligent pursuit of criminals who smuggle, deal, and commit acts of violence everyday in the pursuit of expanding the illegal drug trade.
It’s hard to believe that the Federal Government would take such a hardline stance with it’s own citizens when they already have a system in place which I’ve seen proven to be effective. The entire system could benefit from following the model of the Department of Transportation. When you fail a DOT drug test you aren’t thrown into jail, or fired on the spot. A failed test puts you into immediate contact with a substance abuse professional, then you are put into a series of follow up test, until it’s proven that you can return to duty. The DOT’s approach doesn’t criminalize these individuals who are in safety sensitive positions, it works with them towards treatment, in the hopes that they will be able to return to duty, and they often do.
So if the DOT can see what corrective measures are needed to help individuals return to high risk positions, why wouldn’t other agencies follow suit? When you wage war on your own people, who can possibly be the victor?
Addiction is a disease, it can be treated and managed. My proposed solution is an expansion of drug free workplace policies, and the creation of new policies which advocate for testing, and followup testing while also making access to substance abuse professionals part of a systematic approach to recovery. By directing individuals deemed to be addicts away from the criminal system, and towards rehabilitation, we will in time lower the prison population, and the economic strain. Most importantly, we must remember not to completely disassociate ourselves from addicts: they are people, our neighbors, our co-workers, and sometimes even our families.