Beginning October 1, 2017, the guidelines have changed for how federal employees will be tested for drugs. Starting January 1, 2018, these changes will go into effect.
The federal government now has the authority to test for four semi-synthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These legal prescription semi-synthetic opioid pain medications are commonly known under the brand names OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and Dilaudid; respectively.
This probably means that home drug test kits and drug tests for employees in the private sector will change as well.
Changes to Drug Tests are Part of the Presidents Promise to Fight the Opioid Crisis
These substances were chosen because they are the most commonly abused opioids. Although these are legal medications prescribed by doctors, studies have indicated they are often illegally used by people who have an addiction problem. Of course, people who have a legitimate prescription from a doctor for legal opioids will not be reported for failing the test.
“Revising the Mandatory Guidelines has taken a tremendous amount of coordination across stakeholders and agencies, over a period of several years,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “We felt it necessary to make these revisions because of advances in science and technology and because of the increased misuse of prescription opioids.”
According to SAMSHA, “By implementing workplace drug testing for four semi-synthetic opioids, the Department of Health and Human Services is continuing its efforts to prevent opioid addiction in support of President Trump’s commitment to combat the opioid crisis. The long-term impact of implementing these revised guidelines will help ensure safety in the workplace, especially in national security, public health, and public safety occupations that interact directly with the public.”
What’s the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?
Because of this change to federal drug tests, we feel it is important to explain the difference between opioids and opiates. Previously, drug tests used a five-panel test that only tested for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and PCP. Now, federal drug screens will test for opioids as well.
Most people know that heroin is an opiate. However, prescription medications like morphine and codeine are also opiates. Many people wonder, are prescription opiates the same as heroin? Here is a simple answer: yes. Opiates are naturally produced opium-based pain-killing drugs that are derived from the poppy plant, which is grown is various tropical climates around the world.
Opioids are also opium-based and cause the same effect. However, opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic.
It can seem confusing, so we hope this clears things up – the main difference between opiates and opioids are that opiates are natural substances and opioids are manufactured chemically.
Why Do I Have to Take a Drug Test to Get a Job Anyway?
There are a lot of people out there who argue against the idea that you should have to take a drug test to get a government job. Many people believe what they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business. “If I come to work sober and do a good job while I am there, why should it matter if I shoot heroin or smoke crack?”
One of the loudest arguments against federal drug testing is the welfare system. People who receive a welfare check do not have to pass a drug test. They get free government money, yet they never have to urinate in a cup to get paid.
The debate here is, “Why should people who receive free government money they didn’t earn be able to use drugs? Yet, people who want to work for a living are forced to undergo drug testing? This just doesn’t seem fair!”
We’re not here to argue one way or the other.
We will, however, tell you why you have to take a drug test if you work for the government. There are several federal requirements that govern the drug-free workplace policies. One of them is the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program, which was introduced by Executive Order 12564 in 1986. It was established to create a drug-free workplace to ensure the safety of all federal employees. According to the executive order, “the program makes it a condition of employment for all federal employees to refrain from using illegal drugs on or off duty.”
How the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program is Regulated
Just in case you are interested, a lot goes into to coordinating and implementing drug-testing for federal employees.
According to SAMSHA, “The Interagency Coordinating Group Executive Committee composed of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Office of Personnel Management, provides policy oversight of the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program. SAMHSA administers the Program and also provides oversight for the National Laboratory Certification Program, which certifies laboratories to conduct forensic drug testing for federal agencies and federally-regulated industries.”
This means not any ole company can just open its doors, start collecting urine, and call itself a drug-testing laboratory. Those who want to conduct drug screens for the federal government have to undergo strict licensing regulations and become certified.
Okay, we’ve talked enough bureaucratic hullaballoo for one blog. Now, let’s talk about the process of taking and passing a drug test.
What to Expect When You Take a Drug Test for a Federal Position
If you are trying to get a job with the federal government, you will absolutely have to pass a drug test. Everyone who gets employed with the federal government must first pass at least a urine test. Some positions require a hair test. Unless you are applying for a highly classified position, you will take a urine test.
Here’s what you should expect:
- You will be sent an email with an address and appointment time for your drug test. You will usually have 48 hours within the given appointment time to show up in person with a state or federal issued photo ID.
- When you arrive, you will provide your photo ID and fill out some paperwork.
- If you are taking any opiate or opioid-based medication, it is a good idea to bring the bottle with you. Explain to the drug test administrator that you have a prescription for a narcotic pain medication. Provide the name of the medication and present the bottle. This will save time. The test you take will inevitably show positive for the medication you have been using. By having it with you, you will prevent the drug testing agency from having to call you and verify your legal prescription later.
- You will be asked to lift your shirt to show the top of your pants and you will be asked to lift your pants legs to show the tops of your socks.
- You will be given a cup and told to fill the cup with urine to a certain line.
- You will then go into a private toilet area and shut the door. No one will go into the toilet area with you. You will be told not to flush the toilet and not to put a lid on the cup.
- Once you are finished, you will hand your specimen to the drug test administrator who will take the temperature of your sample and secure it in a sealed bag with your information on it.
- You will then wait three to five days for your employer to notify you of the results.
It’s actually a very simple and easy process.
How to Guarantee You Will Pass a Drug Test
Now, let’s talk about something that might be a little nearer and dearer to your heart. You may be wondering… how do you pass a drug test? You want to know the sure-fire way to pass a drug test? Don’t use drugs! We say this not to be smart aleck-y, but to be quite serious.
Many people use drugs and try all sorts of methods to successfully pass a drug test anyway. However, there is only one guaranteed, fool-proof way to ace your drug test and land that dream government job. That it is to have clean, unadulterated urine.
Don’t Get Duped into Buying Expensive Products and Trying Home Remedies
If you Google “how to pass a drug test,” you will find all sorts of people and companies out there telling you how to pass a urinalysis. There are expensive products on the market. Some of them are laughable – and many of them are dangerous. There are also folks out there swearing by home remedies that work. They don’t.
Here are some of the products and remedies we read about when researching “how to pass a drug test.” We want to set the record straight:
- Drink lots and lots of water. This will flush the drugs out of your system quick or fake the drug test into “thinking” your urine is clean. WRONG! What this will do is provide a false-positive test result. The testing agency will call you back, tell you that you have a diluted specimen, and ask you to come and take the drug test again.
- Drink cranberry juice. The acid in the juice will metabolize the drugs in your body quicker and help push them out of your body. NOT! The only way to get drugs out of your body is with sweet time.
- Buy fake urine, put it in a cup between your legs and pour it into the cup they give you instead of giving them your dirty urine. Not gonna happen. The drug tests administered by the federal government are highly sophisticated. You’re not going to fool them with fake pee.
- Drink bleach. It will clean out your system. What do you have, a death wish? Drinking bleach can kill you for crying out loud! And, just in case you’re actually considering this – it doesn’t work. Don’t even think about it.
- Buy our super dooper system masker stuff and it will mask your urine for 4-8 hours. Again, this stuff does not work. Not only does it not work, federal drug tests look for ingredients that have been designed to “mask” urine. You won’t get away with it.
If you want a federal job, but you have been using drugs, you should make sure all the drugs have gotten out of your system before you apply for a job with the government. If you fail a drug test when applying for a federal position, you can ruin your chances of ever getting a job with Uncle Sam – for the rest of your life.
Fun fact: Did you know that approximately three million Americans – not including members of the U.S. military – are employed by the federal government and are subject to random drug testing?