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According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2010 6.6% of adults used illicit drugs. It’s an ongoing issue throughout the country and many companies have chosen to address it by instituting drug-free workplaces. In fact, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 establishes that any employer who receives federal grants or contracts has to be drug free or they can be at risk to lose federal funding. The idea is to prevent the problems that substance abusers bring with them into the workplace like tardiness, poor judgment skills, lower morale, sleepiness or hyperactivity, theft, 8 or more days absent each year, low productivity, workplace accidents and the increased likelihood of disdainful relationships with co-workers, bosses or employees.

Industries that generally require random drug testing include the Department of Transportation for all truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, factory workers, construction workers and nursing staff. The fact is that alcohol and drug abuse costs the economy billions of dollars each year due to increased turnover, medical costs, absenteeism and accidents. Employers both big and small are more and more establishing professional and consistent drug policies that need to be abided by for hire and continued employment with their firms. Often it’s becoming part of the interview process!

If you are working for a company that promotes a drug-free work environment, you may very well experience random drug testing. According to SAMHSA’s guidelines, the basic drug tests look for Amphetamines (meth, speed, ecstasy), THC (found in marijuana and hash), Cocaine, Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine and morphine) and Phencyclidine (PCP). Alcohol and drugs each have different periods of time that they can be detected in the system and it also depends if the testing is done through blood or urine. Some standard estimates are:

Alcohol – 1.5 hours for every 1-ounce

Amphetamines – 2 days

Benzodiazepines – (like Ativan or Xanax) 2 – 3 weeks

Cocaine – 2 -10 days

Morphine – 2 -3 days

Marijuana – 3 -4 days

Methamphetamine – 2 -3 days

Heroine – 1 – 7 days

If you are caught with a positive drug test while on the job it can result in immediate termination. Some companies however, might give you a second chance, especially if you have been a valued employee for a long period of time. In some cases, the company will ask you to take unpaid leave while you fulfill certain requirements of a rehab program or drug and alcohol education class. The company will either provide you with a specific class to take or just send you off to learn something and come back with a Certificate of Completion.

If you have been told by your employer to go take a drug education class before returning to work, it’s worth asking your HR department if the class can be completed online. Taking the program online from the convenience of home can be cost effective and allow you to get through the class in a timelier manner. For example, an 8-session drug education class in-person might meet twice a week, leaving you out of work for a month. Online classes are taken at your own convenience so the participant has the flexibility to finish the 8-session class in a week or even in one day! Learn from your mistakes and get back on track with a quality online drug and alcohol awareness class at your fingertips.