Drug and Alcohol Screenings

Drug and Alcohol Screenings

In today's work environment, it is common for employers to mandate drug and alcohol screenings for their employees. This comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to be prepared and understand what to anticipate.

Who Needs Drug and Alcohol Screenings?

In short, almost everyone. Employers across various industries rely on pre-employment and periodic drug and alcohol screenings to ensure the well-being of their employees, co-workers, and, in some cases, the general public. Safety-sensitive sectors like manufacturing, shipping, transportation, and construction place great importance on these screenings to guarantee that employees are not under the influence of substances that could compromise their ability to perform their jobs safely. Additionally, individuals designated as safety-sensitive employees under Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations must undergo DOT drug and alcohol testing.

When Do Drug and Alcohol Screenings Typically Take Place?

The timing and frequency of screenings usually depend on your employer and the regulations in your state. However, employers may request drug and alcohol testing in various situations, including pre-employment, return-to-duty after a workers' compensation claim, post-accident, reasonable suspicion or cause, and randomly.

What Types of Drug and Alcohol Screenings Are Offered?

The specific drugs included in your screening are determined by your company. State regulations and company drug-free workplace policies also influence the required types of testing. Vital Urgent Care offers two types of drug screening collections: hair collections and urine collections (rapid 5-panel and 10-panel). Hair testing can detect drug use from several months prior, as hair takes longer to grow. Urine drug tests are the most common, providing quick results. Additionally, Vital Urgent Care conducts breath and blood alcohol testing as per applicable state requirements and/or your employer's guidelines.

What Drugs Are Tested For?

Vital Urgent Care is capable of testing for a wide range of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, methaqualone, propoxyphene, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.

What About Prescription and Over-The-Counter (OTC) Drugs?

If you are currently taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, we encourage you to list the medications on your copy of the chain of custody form after your visit. In the event that your results indicate the presence of a potential prescription or OTC medication, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) may contact you to verify any medications you are taking, if applicable.

What is a Medical Review Officer (MRO)?

A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a licensed physician responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results, as well as evaluating medical justifications for certain drug test outcomes. MROs undergo ongoing education to maintain their status and serve as safeguards to ensure the quality and accuracy of your results. Certain industries and government organizations, such as the DOT, require MRO review of their employees' test results.

What Should I Bring With Me to a Drug and Alcohol Screening?

To ensure a smooth drug and alcohol screening process, please remember to bring the following items with you:

  • A valid (non-expired) photo ID issued by a federal, state, or local government agency. This can include a passport, driver’s license, military ID, employee badge, or any other government-issued ID.
  • All necessary authorization forms or paperwork provided by your employer.

Is There Anything I Need to Do to Prepare?

If you are completing a urine drug screen, it is important to be able to provide a urine sample of 45 mL or 1.5 fluid ounces. Please refrain from using the restroom prior to your test. In the event that you are unable to provide a full sample during the collection process, you will have a three-hour window to complete the sample. Leaving the collection area for any reason will be considered a refusal to test, which can have the same consequences as a positive result for your employer.

What Happens During a Drug and Alcohol Screening?

  1. You will be asked to provide either a hair or urine sample based on your employer's preferences. If you are completing a urine drug screen, you will be instructed to wash your hands and remove any excess clothing, such as a jacket or hat. Additionally, you will be asked to empty your pockets and may choose to secure your valuables in a lock box. If you carry a wallet, you will be allowed to keep it with you after a Vital Urgent Care staff member inspects it.
  2. If your employer has requested a breath or blood alcohol test, you will be asked to blow into a breathalyzer or provide a blood sample, which measures the alcohol content in your bloodstream.

How Are Results Reported?

If you are completing a drug and alcohol screening at the request of your employer, the results will be reported directly to them. Your employer will be responsible for notifying you of the results. If you are self-employed or require the results for court purposes, we will send them to the email or mailing address you provide.


1 U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy and Compliance. What Employees Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing. Reviewed Jan. 2012. Accessed March 16, 2023"

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