The History of Drug Testing

We know that drug testing occurs frequently both in the trucking industry as well as other industries across the nation. We typically don’t think about the times when drug testing wasn’t commonplace or a standard of practice in the United States. Since drug abuse has been around in this country for quite some time, long preceding the 1960s, there was then also a period of time where being under the influence of drugs at work was commonplace.

Drug testing didn’t actually become a standard in the United States until the late 1980s. This was in part due to the Reagan administration’s efforts to combat the “War on Drugs” and the havoc controlled substances were wreaking on the nation’s youth and employed. Prior to this time, there was no standard for drug testing in the workplace, school, or sports. This all began to change with steps made by the Reagan Administration including an Executive Order that allowed for random drug testing in the Department of Transportation.

Many different forms of drug testing have become prevalent in the United States since the inception of the standardization of drug testing. Urine tests have emerged and are still the most prominent form of drug testing in the US workforce, especially with random drug testing. Urine testing has been implemented due to the fact that it can detect the most commonly used illegal drugs for up to a few weeks. Saliva tests have also emerged as a legitimate form of drug testing, although this method is typically used by law enforcement.

Some drugs that modern day drug tests can detect are:

  • THC (marijuana and hashish)
  • Cocaine and Crack
  • Opiates (includes heroin, opium, and Oxycotin)
  • Methamphetamines
  • MDMA and other club drugs

Other methods have been devised to detect for the presence of these aforementioned drugs in the workplace. These include hair follicle testing, sweat patches, and blood tests. Since drug testing has become common practice in many industries in the US, accidents have decreased and productivity has increased.

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