You were given a drug test recently and when the results came back you were positive for one or more drugs. You may have suspected you would fail, or in rare cases it’s a total surprise. What should you expect and what should you do when your drug test results come back positive?
Don’t Freak Out When Your Drug Test Results Come Back Positive
A positive drug test is not the end of the world. The first thing to do is settle your mind. You don’t need additional stress and worrying will have no effect on the outcome.
Consequences are hardly ever as severe as people expect, but people have done many things they regret immediately after receiving bad news. The worst thing you can do is continue using drugs.
What are the consequences of Failing a Drug Test?
Depending on what your drug test was for consequences can range from nothing to prison time. In the vast majority of cases people overestimate the consequences of failing a drug test, and in other cases they know exactly what to expect.
Unless someone has firsthand experience or knows someone that has been through the exact process with very similar circumstances, they will rarely have a totally accurate idea of the consequences of failing a drug test. Here are some likely scenarios by case.
If you fail your probation drug test it will most likely be sent to a lab for confirmation giving you several more days to worry. The consequences of a failed drug test will be different depending on your original crime, your time on probation, the drugs you failed for and your probation officer’s own discretion.
In most cases someone that has done well for a while and has their first infraction will be referred to a drug counselor and may be asked to attend rehab after an assessment. For someone that has failed multiple tests however you could have your probation revoked. People that do go to jail for a failed probation drug test often get out sooner than expected.
If you fail a drug test when applying for a job 99% of the time you will not be hired and that will be the end of it. Many employers have a statute about how long a failed drug test will affect hiring, so you may be able to re-apply in 6 months to 1 year.
Random Drug Testing at Work
Many employers do random drug testing to comply with federal guidelines and meet insurance requirements. For small businesses the result of a positive drug test will mostly be up to the discretion of the owner. Your work history and importance will likely play a big part in how it turns out.
Larger corporations almost always have a drug treatment policy where employees that have a positive drug screen are given the opportunity to attend treatment and accept terms of a more strenuous testing program to continue their employment. A violation of this program will usually result in termination.
Post-Accident Drug Test
Employers are required to do a post-accident drug test of all involved parties when an on-the-job accident occurs that causes serious injury or death. This is probably one of the most serious drug tests. You and your company could face lawsuits and even jail time for negligence or manslaughter.
If you drive a vehicle or work around dangerous equipment, consider this before taking drugs even outside of work.
Healthcare facilities drug test patients for many reasons. The most common is when prescribing narcotics. These tests are to inform the doctor about any drugs you may take or addictions you may have and depending on your treatment you may get a prescription anyway. In most cases during a healthcare screening you need to show positive for any drugs you are prescribed and negative for all other drugs. Any other result is a good reason for your Doctor to withhold a prescription or even discharge you from care.
What to Do If Your Drug Test Comes Back Positive
If your drug test comes back positive the first question you need to ask yourself is why you failed the test. If you used drugs accept that it’s your fault and admit guilt; probation officers and employers are more likely to help if you are honest and they will know you’re lying when the confirmation comes back.
If you have not used drugs you should request a confirmation. Make a list of all the medications you have taken in the last month and a list of any unusual foods you may have consumed. Educate yourself about false positives on a drug test and stay confident that it will be worked out at the lab.
If someone was injured on the job, you should retain legal counsel and not answer any questions unless instructed to by your lawyer. You should get a quantitative blood screen as soon as possible to document the levels of any drugs in your system. You may be able to use this as evidence in court if your impairment was truly not the cause of the accident.
Immediately quit taking drugs. In many cases you will face suspension or other consequences until you can pass a drug test.
If you have a drug problem seek help. The longer you use drugs the harder it is to quit and there are many benefits to living a drug free life.
The consequences for trying to tamper with a drug test are usually more severe in the legal system and healthcare, and identical to failing in an employment setting. Never attempt to adulterate a test because it will negate any opportunity for leniency or forgiveness.
Dealing With Positive Drug Tests
I cannot stress enough that failing a drug test is not the end of the world and in most cases the consequences are never as dire as people expect.
For organizations and individuals giving drug tests I would like to remind you that everyone deserves respect and just because someone fails a drug test does not make them a bad person. They are likely under a lot of stress and you can really help their state of mind by being understanding. Please do not use drug testing as a tool for personal revenge.
For anyone taking a drug test I’d like to remind you that the person in charge of your test is just doing their job and following procedure. They do not want to see you fail a drug test and it causes them a lot of stress knowing that you may lose your job or suffer other consequences as part of their job.