The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, is a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. The DEA evaluates substances to see if they meet the criteria to be a scheduled drug. If so, they then classify these drugs into five schedules according to their abuse potential, addictive nature and whether or not they have accepted medical use for treatment. Sometimes drugs are re-evaluated and their status as a scheduled or unscheduled drug can change.
Schedule I drugs are those considered to have a very high abuse and addiction potential while having no accepted medical safety or benefit of use. Drugs within this category include heroin, LSD and marijuana. Schedule II drugs also have a high abuse potential but have certain accepted medical uses. They also may lead to psychological and physical dependence. Morphine, PCP, cocaine, methadone and methamphetamines are all classified as Schedule II substances.
Schedule III drugs are thought to have less abuse potential than those classified at I or II level drugs and have accepted treatment uses. These have a small to moderate chance of the development of physical or psychological dependence. Two well-known substances within this category include anabolic steroids and Tylenol with Codeine.
Schedule IV drugs have a lower abuse potential than substances classified in higher categories and are thought to only have limited possibilities of causing psychological or physical dependence. These include Darvon, Valium and Xanax. Schedule V is the last category of federally scheduled substances. These are thought to have the lowest abuse potential of all scheduled drugs and have a very limited chance of dependence. They also have accepted medical uses. Over the counter cough medicines with codeine are placed within this category.
Employee drug testing is used to detect the possible use and abuse of various scheduled substances. A basic drug test generally screens for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and phencyclidine (PCP). There are also expanded drug tests that can additionally detect the use of Barbiturates, hydrocodone (Vicodin), benzodiazapines (Xanax, Valium), methaqualone (Qualudes), Methadone, propoxyphene and MDMA (ecstasy). An expanded drug test usually looks for use of Alcohol (Ethanol) as well even though it is legally sold for consumption. It is also possible to test for LSD, mescaline and various inhalants, but drug testing for these substances is highly unusual.
There are five different types of drug tests based on the type of body sample used in the testing. These drug tests include the use of urine, blood, hair, saliva and sweat. Urinalysis is the cheapest drug test to perform and is used the most often. It can generally detect use within the last week and is fairly accurate. Saliva tests can detect more recent use while the use of hair for drug testing can show patterns of use over a longer period of time, although these are both higher in cost than the standard urine drug test.
Blood tests are the most accurate of all the types of drug testing available but are also the most expensive and are more invasive to the drug test participate. Sweat tests are available in which a patch is put on the body for a period of time to test the sweat coming out of the surface of the skin. However, this drug test is not widely used, as there is controversy over the reliability and accuracy of this particular type of screening. It is possible that contamination of the skin’s surface may cause false positive results without any actual drug use of the individual undergoing the drug test.
Drug testing is often used within the workplace environment in many ways for many different reasons to suit the needs of each particular employer. A pre-employment drug test may be used during the application process to rule out those that use. Sometimes employers will first make an offer to hire an individual on the condition that they first pass drug testing. Employers will also drug test employees who did not previously have a drug test prior to being hired if they’ve since implemented a new policy of drug testing prior to employment.
Employee drug testing can also be done randomly without notice or periodically with a date and time given to employees in advance. Sometimes a drug test will only be done if there is probably cause to suspect a substance abuse issue affecting employment or after an accident to rule out drug use as the cause. Employers may also choose to drug test only certain types of employees within the company whose drug use can be a serious safety hazard on the job. An employee that is known to have a substance abuse issue may be drug tested when referred to rehabilitation or prior to re-entering the workplace upon completion of a rehabilitation program.
There are different laws and regulations that must be followed when drug testing is used for employees. The laws affecting government and federal employers are must stricter while private employers tend to have more say in the manner they conduct drug testing. However, all employers must still be in compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations when performing drug tests on employees. It is important to know all guidelines and laws regarding employee drug testing when developing and implementing a new drug policy within the workplace. Many drug-testing facilities also offer services in this area as well as many other additional services to aid employers in all areas of employee drug tests.