The Alternatives

Not all employers are Orwellian in nature. Many employers do not care what you do at home in your off-time; they just want to ensure that you are performing your best when you are at work. Out of ignorance, they think the way to ensure high performance is to test for drug use. Obviously it's not.

There is an alarming number false negatives and false positives in the drug testing industry. That's a fact. And what it means is that competent, law abiding workers are unfairly being denied employment and losing jobs. The employers evaluation of the employees competency is dependent on the competency of the lab. Even when the lab is competent, there are still false positives due to other factors, all of which are outside the control of the employee.

The fact that there are false negatives can lead to extremely severe disasters in safety critical applications. For example, the case below explained by an anonymous user:

I'm the Director of a program that monitors nurses and other health professionals with chemical dependency. We recently had a nurse anesthetist who had clean screens for over six months and we approved her to return to anesthesia practice. Her first week on the job, two of her patients experienced complications during surgery because of her impaired practice and ended up in ICU in critical condition. I don't know if either one will regain neurological function. The nurse went back to treatment and we asked her what happened. She had been drinking and using the entire time...

So we have a situation where people assume that because someone passes a drug test, then they must be safe. The fact is, an airline pilot can snort a line of cocaine five minutes before a drug test and pass no problem; then step into the cockpit for a couple hour flight and be severely impaired.

It is impairment we want to test for - not lifestyle preference. This is where performance impairment tests comes in. Impairment tests use a computer to assess the employees hand-eye coordination, and a variety of other variables that are related to the task, not the lifestyle of the employee. The test only takes 30 seconds. It is superior to drug testing "in terms of cost, timeliness and accuracy of results, and overall liability" [Fine].

Now suppose a surgeon finds out his fourteen year old daughter is pregnant, then has to stay up all night with his sick two year old. He is in no condition to work the next morning; especially after just discovering that his stock took a dive as well. If he goes into work anyway, he will pass a drug test, but not the impairment test.

We are sacrificing too many important rights by allowing drug testing to continue. Until this unjust drug testing frenzy is put to an end, children, workers, military service people, and parolees need to learn how to protect themselves from the drug test.

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