Amidst Covid 19, what are the effects of drug testing and substance abuse in the United States? At National Drug Screening we do drug testing all over America and there have been some effects from COVID-19 with drug testing. One thing to point out is that in the United States when a huge crisis occurs, we see a big uptick in substance abuse. You see more people drinking, binge drinking or becoming alcoholics; we see more people using illicit substances.
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Substance Abuse on the Rise
Today, we see increased use of marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines. As an example, we saw the same type of trend after the 911 crisis. So, with COVID, we are seeing an uptick in substance abuse.
Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) recently stated – “There’s more substance abuse, more overdoses, more domestic violence and neglect and abuse of children.”
Drug Test Challenges
In some cases, we have seen some challenges in getting drug testing done but for the most part, employers, since April, have been able to do their normal drug testing. There are times when maybe a collection facility where you go for the drug test has been closed or the facilities are closed, and you must find another facility. If all the facilities in your town are closed, it is going to be hard to get drug testing done; but you could bring in a mobile collector, and they can do it on site at your business.
But for the most part, we have seen that urine collection facilities across the United States have remained open as essential businesses. So, it has not been hard to get a urine drug screen done in most of the United States. For DOT regulated employers, random testing is required. And so, in the first quarter of this year, January through March, there should have been no reason not to get your random testing completed. In the second quarter, there may have been some challenges, but the reason I cannot drug test, my employees, because of COVID-19 is not an appropriate excuse. A valid excuse would be all the places in my town that we go for collection are closed and there are no other facilities within a reasonable distance that are open. In this instance, you would have to document for each person that has been selected for a random drug test when you notified them and what happened and why you could not get them tested.
Not acceptable is that they did not want to be tested or that they did not feel comfortable getting tested. The valid excuse is that it was impossible to get them tested. If that is the case DOT may accept that reason. But we have not found that to be the case as most drug testing facilities, I would say over 90%, have been open during these times. So, with random drug testing, typically, you have two and a half months to get the testing if making quarterly selections or 30 days if making monthly selections. It is always important to get the testing done. Remember that you do not have to get the testing done the day you got the selection list. You can notify your employees when you know that collection facilities will be available and when you know that those employees are available to be tested. So, you can work through the challenges of COVID-19, and your random drug testing program.
Returning to Work
Now, many people are working from home and many people may have been furloughed or laid off. So, as they are coming back to work plus and some that are in a DOT program but have been out of the testing pool for more than 30 days, the question is do you have to get a new pre-employment test completed. Now, DOT has granted some leeway on that under very clear and specific circumstances. If you meet those criteria you can return people to work after 30 days without having to do another pre employment test.
Now people working from home they may be coming back to work or people that were furloughed, you may want to have a company policy that does a drug test when they come back to work. Now you do not want to just do that without having it written into your company policy. So maybe you do an amendment to your policy that says, based on these challenging times, people have been furloughed, people have been laid off, people are working from home. When they come back to the office, we are going to do a drug test to make sure that they are clean. Remembering that there is an uptick more people are using drugs and alcohol than they were before COVID-19. Matter of fact sales of alcoholic beverages have skyrocketed. Since April, sales of marijuana and recreational marijuana retail stores have skyrocketed.
Drug Free Workplace Policy – Pre and Post Covid
More people are using drugs and alcohol, you must be careful, you must pay attention to your drug free workplace policy. Now is not the time to let it lapse. Because if you are not keeping up with your drug free workplace policy. You may have substance abusers come into work. They may cause accidents. They may not be productive. They may have high turnover. They may be late for work. Often, they may steal from their coworkers. All these things can cost your business, money. So now is the time to implement a drug free workplace program.
If your drug free workplace policy is 5 + years old, it needs to be updated. If you do not have a drug free workplace policy, you need one. At National Drug Screening, we can help you with a new policy or a revised policy, you can visit our website, you can call us.
We can help you with drug testing and we can help you with your drug free workplace policy, visit our website – www.NationalDrugScreening.com.
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