“From pre-employment to steroid usage in athletes, there are many scenarios that warrant drug testing,” explains Dr. Aunj Jain, Family and Internal Medicine, Woodridge Clinic. “Drug testing has become popular, particularly for employers who want to protect their business and productivity.  Research shows that employees who use illegal substances are less productive and tardier, absent, and injury-prone.

“That’s why employers often promote a drug-free workplace to make environments safer for their employees.  By testing all employees, the company can increase productivity and safety, while decreasing workers’ compensation claims and turnover rates.”

In addition to pre-employment drug testing, some companies perform random drug testing, with hopes of deterring illicit drug use.  Safety-sensitive occupations, such as pilots and truck drivers, mandate random drug testing.

Some drug tests are done to protect employees, to check their on-the-job exposure to harmful chemicals, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Dr. Jain explains that multiple drug screening methods are available, including testing urine, oral fluids, and hair.

Fasting is not required before having a urine test to screen for drugs.  Health experts caution that many nonprescription medications, supplements, and vitamins can affect the urinalysis’ test results.  People are encouraged to eat and drink normally before the test, to allow the body time to produce a urine sample.  Over-hydration is discouraged, as it may cause the test to fail.

Testing detects substances not traditionally found in the body.  Testing may be done at work sites or independent medical facilities.  Urine or saliva samples are collected in clean, sterile containers.  Hair samples are drawn near the scalp.

Experts explain that after the screening, the results are compared with a predetermined cutoff of the major “drugs of abuse.”  All results below the cutoff are negative; rates above are deemed positive.