Drugs & Alcohol

Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace has received growing attention and has become a major concern for employers, in part due to the fact that substance abuse in the workplace has affected the health and financial well-being of many businesses in America. Employers should keep in mind that more than 75% of all drug users are employed somewhere. Alcohol and drug abuse costs the economy billions of dollars every year.


Alcohol and drug use among employees and their family members can be an expensive problem for business and industry, with issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft and low employee morale, to an increase in health care, legal liabilities and workers’ compensation costs.


There is no requirement for most private employers to have a drug-free workplace policy of any kind. The exceptions to this are federal contractors and grantees, as well as safety- and security-sensitive industries and positions.  Alpha CHECKPOINT can assist in writing a policy that assists your workplace to stay in  compliance with federal regulations.

Federal statutes on drug-free workplace policies can be divided into two broad groups, or categories, of legislation.

One category includes laws such as the Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988. These laws are designed explicitly to target workplace substance use. They legally compel certain types of employers to take action against drug use in the workplace, such as by developing a written policy. To learn more about the Drug-free Workplace Act (https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/legal/federal-laws/contractors-grantees). The other category includes laws designed to protect the basic civil rights of American workers. These statutes provide special legal protections to certain kinds of employees. They set clear limits on how far an employer can go in investigating and establishing consequences for employee drug use.


Use the toolkit at the SAMHSA website  OR  Alpha CHECKPOINT can assist in writing a policy that assists your workplace to stay in  compliance with federal regulations.

Keep in mind if you are a DOT (Department of Transportation) regulated company, the employer has an obligation to promulgate a policy on the misuse of alcohol and use of controlled substances in the workplace (part 382, subpart F of the Federal Register  https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40).  The requirements are extensive and it is recommended that you consult with a company that is experienced with these type of policies.

Urine provides a convenient sample for detection of drugs due to its easy and non-invasive availability but may only detect recent use.  Hair testing has become very popular in testing for chronic drug use.  Testing the hair for drugs of abuse can detect drug use up to the last 90 days. Alpha – Hair Testing FAQs 04-2018.pdf (click on hyperlink for handout)

Products that aim to help employees beat a required drug test.  These may include:

  • bringing in someone else’s urine;
  • diluting the samples;
  • adding oxidizing agents which chemically alter or destroy drugs and/or their metabolites;
  • adding non-oxidizing adulterants that change the pH of the urine sample;
  • consuming diuretics which help in the dilution of a urine sample;
  • adding surfactants, or soaps.  When added to a urine sample in the proper amounts, it can trap fatty marijuana metabolites.
  • use of temperature strips on the sample;
  • laboratories will test the samples for the most common adulterants;
  • laboratories will test the pH of the samples;
  • providing on-site testing – notifying the employee immediately prior to the test minimizing access to adulterants.