A Brief History of Drug Testing

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Drug testing is a big business. With at least fifteen large U.S. corporations supplying laboratory testing, employees and others are only a few minutes’ drive from a testing facility. From employers who use drug testing as a pre-employment screening tool to parents who want to keep tabs on the well being of theirteenagers, there are many groups that frequently use drug testing as a screening mechanism. 

Since the mid-1980’s, drug testing has become more and more common. Probably the group that is tested most often is prospective employees. With strict workplace safety legislation and the fact that employees can use dangerous equipment or have access to sensitive information, employers want to be certain that their employees are not drug abusers. With a sample of urine, hair, blood or swab from the mouth, drug-testing laboratories can often product positive or negative results within 24 to 48 hours. 

Recently, drug abuse testing has become increasingly common in professional athletics. With the controversies surrounding the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, athletes are under a great deal of scrutiny. The government has also stepped in, and has begun to implement stricter controls and more frequent screening of athletes. A positive result on a drugtest can result in penalties such as fines, loss of game time, or complete dismissal from the team. It is safe to say that drug-abusing athletes are taking huge risks with their careers by abusing performance or other illegal drugs. 

Opponents of drug testing argue that it violates a person’s rights to privacy. They hold that even if an employee is a recreational drug user, it does not necessarily follow that his or her work will be affected. With random drug testing gaining popularity in theworkforce, one may literally be drawn out of a hat as the next one up for a drug screening. While states only loosely enforce drug-testing laws, opponents say that random drug testing can ruin a person’s life. Even recreational weekend usage may result in the loss of employment if the drug usage is determined with a drug test. Random drug testing is often argued to be testing without any probable cause. 

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