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Could your employee be amongst 29.5 million people who globally suffer from drug use disorders?

Substance abuse is a serious concern for employers worldwide. Marijuana and cocaine are the most common drugs used across the world. The United Nations reported way back in 2011 that India was the top consumer of heroin. More than 3 million people are believed to be addicted to drugs in India. For employers, drugs found in someone’s system while at work can pose huge problems as it is detrimental to the organization on the whole. The repercussions of drug use at workplace are serious and irreversible. Damage to reputation, loss in productivity and costly errors in work are just some of the repercussions of drug abuse at workplace. Drug testing is the ideal way to hire the right candidates and prevent the disastrous consequences of drug abuse.

What is drug abuse testing?

Substance abuse tests are conducted for common drugs using standardized panel tests in the laboratory. Professional drug testing service providers use a network of partners to conduct drug testing that is aligned with the company’s drug testing policy. There are various drug testing panels ranging from 4 panel to 12 panel, the number denoting the number of drugs screened in the panel.

Drug abuse leads to multiple problems at work including:

· Loss in concentration

· Inconsistency in work quality

· Errors

· Absenteeism

· Carelessness and indifference towards other employees

· Conflicts and aggression

Besides, there are possibilities that the drug user could try to pedal the drugs at workplace. The overall loss in productivity and damage to reputation can be detrimental to the company’s financial and social health. Mandatory drug testing from a reputed background screening and drug testing provider is the best way to avoid hiring the wrong candidates and boosting accountability.

Standard drug panels for drug testing

The standard drug panel tests are conducted in the laboratory and the results are available usually after 24 to 48 hours. The following standard panels are used for pre-emptive drug screening for employment. The 5 panel drug testing is the most commonly used standard for employment purposes.

· The 5-panel drug testing tests for cocaine, opiates, Amphetamines, Phencyclidine PCP and Marijuana.

· The 7 panel drug testing includes barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, Amphetamines, opiates, cocaine and phencyclidine.

· 8-panel drug testing involves checks for all of the above in the 7-panel drug testing plus marijuana.

· The 9-panel drug testing includes all the tests mentioned in 8 panel drug testing-plus testing for Propoxyphene.

· The 10-panel drug testing screens for opiates, Amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates, methadone, methaqualone, Phencyclidine PCP, and Propoxyphene

· 10-panel + screens include all the above listed in 10 panel drug testing plus screening for Ecstasy

Dealing with a positive drug abuse test report

If any of the drug testing panels come back as positive, an additional confirmation testing for both the specimen and the result is done in the laboratory that can take 48 to 72 hours. If the presence of drug is confirmed, the candidate could face punitive action leading to imprisonment of up to six months or one year depending on the extent of drug possession. The fine levied ranges from Rs. 10,000 to 1 lakh under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.

Sometimes a false positive with opiates is also possible since poppy seeds which is a common ingredient used in cooking, contains opiates while some over-the-counter drugs can contain cocaine or amphetamines.

Employers have to review the results along with the employee or candidate and determine the course of action in accordance with the prevailing laws.

Developing a workplace policy with respect to drug testing and drug license verification is important as it will avoid unnecessary litigations or conflicts. The candidate should be made aware of the company’s drug testing policy and course of action in case of a confirmed positive result.