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The job search process isn’t a fun one. Weeks or even months of sending applications out, interviewing, and trying to find the right fit can be exhausting. Once you land the right position it can feel like a huge relief. With all the excitement of receiving the job offer and the stress of negotiating your salary, there is one more thing you may have to complete before being an official employee of this company. Many employers require their new hires to pass a drug screening before their first day of work. This can make some people nervous—even without being worried about passing. Check out this guide on what you need to know before your drug test to help calm the stress.

Why companies may require a drug screening

Many companies require new employees to pass a drug screening prior to their first day of official employment. If new employees do not pass the test, their offer for employment may be rescinded. This is due to many reasons. Many companies believe that people using illicit substances may not be the most attentive or productive of workers. Workers under the influence can also pose a liability threat to the company—especially if the worker is around or uses large machinery as part of their duties. Other companies do this so they can more affordably provide healthcare to their workers. Many healthcare companies provide discounts and lower rates for coverage to companies who require drug screening as it is typically more costly to insure a drug user than someone who does not use drugs.

What it tests for

Most employer administered drug tests will test for between 10 to 14 substances. Many of these substances are legal with a prescription, and if you have a prescription to take any of these medications it may be beneficial to disclose this to the technician that is administering your test. Most drug screenings check for the use of these listed substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • K2
  • THC
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Morphine
  • Opiates
  • Oxycodone
  • Phencyclidine
  • Propoxyphene

If you have any concerns about what the test will detect, you can ask your employer about their procedures for more information.

What to expect on the day of the drug test

When you show up to the testing location the day of the test, it’s normal to be nervous—even without any concern for passing the test. Drug screenings can feel very invasive, and the lack of privacy makes many uncomfortable. Most employer-sponsored drug screenings are done by either urine testing or saliva testing. For urine testing, you will simply have to deposit urine into a cup provided to you by the testing facility. For saliva testing, a test administrator will use a cotton swab to collect a saliva sample from inside your cheek. Each test should only take a minute or two to administer.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.