What Will Happen When You Fail a Drug Test?

The main reason for workplace drug screening is to ensure that no drug abuser joins a company payroll. There are instances when drug tests come up as positive. Employers usually consult with a lawyer to know their options after someone screens positive for drug abuse. It is, however, important to consider regulatory requirements before making a decision. Keep reading to learn more about exactly what happens when someone fails a drug test.

What Happens If You Fail a Drug Test?

Different rules and regulations regarding drug testing prevail in different municipalities and states. Here are some of the consequences you may have to face if you fail a drug test:

  • You are not going to get hired if you fail a pre-employment drug test.
  • Your employer might not promote you or even terminate you if you fail a drug test while on duty.
  • You may not get workers' compensation benefits, unemployment benefits or disability benefits from your state if you fail a drug test. Some jurisdictions have lenient policies regarding positive drug tests.

Can It Be a False Positive?

It can happen actually. Then what happens if you fail a drug test but that was a false positive? You may test positive if you use certain legal substances and products. The list includes poppy seed products, nasal sprays, and products containing hemp. Several OTC medications may also cause a false positive drug test. The list includes Midol, Ibuprofen, Vicks nasal spray, Sudafed, Neosynephrine, Vicks 44, Dextromethorphan, and Ephedrine-based products.

What it implies is that drug tests can be inaccurate. It is due to this particular reason that most drug-testing companies will ask you in advance about any medications you are taking or have taken in the last month or so. It is therefore a good idea to make a list of all those products, including OTC medications to later confirm that you may have a false positive.

What Can You Do If You Fail a Drug Test?

Now that you know, "What happens if you fail a drug test?" it is equally important to know your options after you fail a drug test. There are basically two situations – you may have never used any illegal drugs or you may have been a drug user.

1. If It’s a False Positive

If you have never used any illicit drugs, you may have a false positive. In this case, you can do the following:

  • Ask for a confirmatory test: It involves testing your urine for the traces of banned drugs. As it is a second test, it is likely to be more accurate. The confirmatory tests have to be a different testing method from the screening test. The most common confirmatory methods are gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Since these tests require a highly trained technique and special equipment, they tend to be more expensive.
  • Request a retest: If you are an employee and believe you are a false positive, you can ask for a retest. Companies are obligated to honor your request and have your urine samples re-tested for a second opinion.

2. If You’re a Drug User

In case you are a drug user, you will again have a few things to consider. For instance:

  • Determine if there are related regulations: It is important to consider related regulations. In most of the cases, there are regulations regarding employee drug abuse, and they usually apply to safety sensitive transportation providers, healthcare companies, and employees of the federal government. If there are no guidelines available, the employers are free to make a choice and may continue to work with someone who may have been tested positive for drug use.
  • Consult a lawyer: What happens if you fail a drug test? It depends on your unique circumstances. Still, you need to consult with an experienced employment lawyer because they can help employees who have been fired, who have not been hired, or who have been denied benefits. Your attorney will help understand the laws and suggest the best course of action for you.
  • Opt for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if your employer has made it available for you. You will have to join an assistance program to resolve your substance abuse problem. If you complete the program successfully, your employer may offer you the same position again.
  • Face it head on:  What's more, you can actually admit your mistakes and accept you have been a drug user in the past. Some employers may appreciate your candid remarks and decide to give you a chance. This usually happens when you have special skills and experience in a particular industry. It is never easy to be open about your mistakes, especially considering the fact that most employers would not hire you anyway if they discover you are a drug user. The best thing is to include a cover letter with your application and explain a bit about positive lifestyle changes to convince them to give you a chance.
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