New Experiences at Work – Drug and Alcohol Test Anyone?

I experienced something new at work today. I got random drug and alcohol tested! WOOH!

I should explain. I work on a ‘dry site’, which basically means there is a zero tolerance policy – no drugs or alcohol (so gone are the lunch time drinkies noooooo). If you get caught with anything in your system you are out of there. And they do test for it – I was warned that much when I started the job.

So today, after dodging calls on my work phone from an anonymous number, I finally answered it and received my summons to the ground floor ladies toilets and the drug testers, who sounded rather gruff. When I got their they were actually really friendly. There sat the Drug Testers – 2 older ladies gas-bagging about the long weekend and how everyone must still be on leave as they were having trouble getting hold of people to test (hmmm maybe they were avoiding picking up their phones?).

After the initial question and answer session which went something like this:

Drug Tester 1: Have you taken drugs in the last 10-14 days?

Me: What do you mean by drugs?

Drug Tester 1: Drugs.

Me: Do you mean, like, Panadol or Nurofen?

Drug Tester 1: Which one did you take?

Me: Um I think Panadol (What if I’m wrong – oh no!)? Do you count alcohol as a drug?

Drug Tester 2: No, unless you were drinking up until 7am this morning?

Me: Ah…no! (Why did I feel like I was lying when I wasn’t?).

– came the breath test for alcohol, of which I can proudly say that I blew 0.000%. But that was the easy bit, as what followed could have been traumatic.

As Drug Tester 1 escorted me into the ladies, I was instructed to put on some latex gloves (there was something awfully strange about snapping them on my hands in preparation for a drug test), handed a cup and lead into a cubicle. It was hear that I almost experienced a heart attack as I was struck by a thought:

Me: Was she going to stand over me and watch me pee into a cup?

It turned out I wasn’t just thinking this, as the words somehow escaped my mouth.

Drug Tester 1: No dear. You can close the door. Just don’t flush, and pee up to the line on the cup. I’ll be right outside the door.

Okay…nothing like pressure and deathly silence, to get you to perform.

After a few minutes, and a whole load of nothing, I had to ask the question:

Me: What happens if I can’t go?

Drug Tester 1: I’ll turn on the tap. Sometimes running water helps.

And help it did! It’s amazing how the mind messes with your bodily functions.

So I passed my specimen cup to the Drug Tester and she preceded to compare the sample to a colour chart. I can proudly say that I passed the drug test, and no further testing was required…until next time. At least I now know what will get me to perform!

32 thoughts on “New Experiences at Work – Drug and Alcohol Test Anyone?

  1. Great story about an experience I’ve never had. Congratulations on passing.

    I can send photos of Niagara if anyone needs them, but I guess it’s the sound that helps, isn’t it.

  2. What is such a worry with employers need to do this is that so many employees do not take enough responsibility. As a flower child many of my friends were stoned most of the time. Some could perform, many could not. But I also know someone who failed a breathalyser having just taken cough syrup. And the Gestapo tactics of standing outside the door because so many people turn in other people’s pee. Trust issues. Engagement issues, Bullying issues. Don’t get me started with the infringement of my rights but the reason it is necessary is that small % of people who are drinking to get through or using drugs because life on high is better than feeling nothing. Life goes on….and on…..and…….

    • Roberta – You sound all fired up (not in a bad way). Trust issues, engagement and bullying. Very interesting you picked that up. I like the point (not that I like it exists) of some people needing the drugs and alcohol to get through life. I know I used to work with a fully functioning alcoholic. Not good they were and alcoholic, but they needed it for reasons that weren’t our business, and they fully performed in their job.

    • I probably grew up around the same time as Roberta and I embrace the same sentiment. This just seems like an infringement of my rights to me. Of course, I have the right to choose not to work somewhere that embraces random drug testing (and I certainly have no fears of passing the tests) but it feels like an invasion of my personal space. With proper personnel policies in place, can’t people who are abusing drugs and alcohol be identified by their behavior? Then, (with policies in place), there could be testing but random testing? Starting to remind me of having to fly on an airplane these days.

      • The responses to this post have been interesting. I didn’t expect such animated discussion but it has been brilliant and I can see all sides to the story and commentary. I think one needs to look at the underlying reasons for doing it , of course, and I can totally understand it in regards to a mine site, with heavy machinery, equipment, explosives, but then – if you look at it – tiredness can be just as dangerous. I’m actually quite impressed then that the company I work for has fatigue management guidelines which prevent employees from working over a certain amount of hours on site. As to the drug and alcohol tests in the office, it does intrigue me, but at least they are not differentiating between us ‘cushy’ office workers and the guys out on the mine sites.

  3. They do the same at my work place but I haven’t been random tested yet! That said, we sometimes have to have tests to get the licence to drive and test the trains ( I am a Signalling Engineer) and they do all sort of fancy tests, including peeing in a cup. They also tested my “mental health” and asked weird questions. Thank God I passed!

  4. Janine, what a surprise eh?
    Thankfully you didnt have to pee in public (ie with them watching). If you are on a mine site, as my partner is pee voyeurism is the go – he says you get used to it!

  5. Wow how invasive! I understand the justification behind them (liability for the company and what not), but to stand outside the door? I know so companies will only test if there are allegations/reasons to believe someone might be under the influence. I’m glad you didn’t have any problems!!

  6. That is becoming more common here in the states than people realize. My husband goes thru these often too because of what he does – handling major mechanical equipment repairs – but I’ve never asked him his experience…guess I need to now!

  7. I have never had to take a random test. I hate tests in general, but this would be especially annoying. I just don’t see the point in this and I’d probably feel a little infringed upon. I’m sure this exists here in America somewhere, but I wonder why this still happens in the first place anywhere. At least you took it in good stride.

    • Yes you do have to wonder Dennis. This is the 1st place I’ve worked in that has done such a thing. I think it’s partly a societal problem, partly a trust issue and lastly a health and safety policy/responsibility due to some horrendous accidents that have occurred on work sites in the past.

  8. Humorous account of a not so humorous situation. I don’t drink or do drugs but I have to agree with Roberta that when these tests came up in my place of employment, I felt, and stated. that this was an infringement of my rights. But I wonder what would have happened back in the 70s and 80s when I was both a high-powered, high performance executive and a full-blown alcoholic?

    • I’m actually not sure if we have the right to refuse – I’m sure it is contained within clauses within our contracts (as there was a whole lot of paperwork). I do have to wonder though – since I had to declare that I was on anti-depressants as it is a ‘drug’ – where that information will end up.

  9. Your rights must be stated in the company pocies. Though it may be written in the policy that if you refuse (as you should have the right to do) then you will be disciplined as per a positive result.

  10. Pingback: Looking back through my blog: My 7 Links | Reflections from a Red Head

  11. Been there done that. Twice. The second time I stupidly voided before I went to the place that does the testing (arrogantly I knew how many ml of urine are produced by the human body and figured mine would do what it was supposed to) and…nothing…FOUR LARGE cups of water and 45 LONG minutes later, it finally happened. Somehow knowing I HAD to give the specimen affected my spigot I would say. Anyway, clean both times and hoping the computer doesn’t choose me a third time anytime soon!
    ~cath 😀
    @jonesbabie on Twitter

    • Damn those computers! Funny the ‘newbies’ at the company ‘apparently’ get targeted. Who knows…I think people just know when the testers are in these days and don’t answer their phones. Not a sign of guilt – just the unwillingness to pee on demand!

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