Pre-employment drug testing may not guarantee a drug-free workplace

It helps, but many users get through. Here’s how.

Drug users call us regularly.

It’s pretty obvious who they are. They ask how long drugs can be detected in urine or hair, and will often pay for their own drug tests to find out if they are clean enough for the test for the new job. They know how to game the system.

That’s why it’s no surprise that pre-employment drug tests have a lower positive rate than post-accident or random tests. Drug users know the pre-employment test is coming and they prepare for it.

8.6PercentHere is how positive test results are distributed:*

  • Pre-employment tests: 3.7%
  • Random tests: 4.9%
  • Post-accident tests: 5.5%


Companies that do random testing generally also do pre-employment tests. Makes sense. Start with a negative test result in each employee’s file.

It follows then that those folks who FAILED THE RANDOM TEST at some time PASSED A PRE-EMPLOYMENT TEST! If the pre-employment test alone was effective, shouldn’t the random test results be lower? A LOT lower?

If you add the pre-employment positives to the randoms, you gest 8.6%, which is a better picture of drug use in the workforce. It’s not quite that simple, but it’s close. Keep in mind that’s among companies that test!

You can bet it’s higher in companies that don’t test.

This seems consistent with the 2012 SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

So why does this matter? Take a look at the 5.5% positive rate for post-accident tests. The data seem to confirm that drug use contributes to accident rates. Testing is an effective way to reduce accidents.

Random testing is the strongest deterrent to drug use in the workplace. Testing helps reduce accidents, increases productivity and improves the overall health of the organization.

Contact InOut Labs to learn how we can help.


*Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index