Do employers test for legal perscription drugs, too?

In a locked thread about beating the employment drug test, someone was describing how long certain drugs stay in one’s system. She said:

I would have asked in other thread, but it’s locked. Do they really test people for legal perscription drugs like Xanax and Valium?

certainly can and do.

In the case of a manufacturing company where the employee will be operating heavy machinery, it is fairly common to screen for things such as the above. In addition, keep in mind that just 'cause a drug is legally obtained sometime doesn’t mean that it’s a legal use at this point (there’s plenty of folks addicted to prescription drugs, writing phoney scripts is a common enough crime, so is stealing from drug stores supplies etc.)

I hesitate to post in this thread, seeing how the other one was locked and I don’t want to get in trouble with the mods, but when I was tested they would always ask for a list of prescriptions and OTC drugs I had taken recently before I took the test. I was told that if I had taken Advil (for example) three days before for a headache, write it down! I think the tests cover a wide range of commonly abused drugs.

Don’t worry Boscibo, I assume the other thread was locked because it was dealing with how to beat a drug test, which is illegal (or at least facilitating the use of illegal drugs).

Simply talking about what they test for should be fine.

I used to give drug tests when I was a phlebotomist at a plasma center.

The test for morphine derivatives will pick up ANYTHING that you have taken, prescription or not, that contains an opiate.

So, if you take Valium, Vicodin, or any of the host of morphine derivatives, it will trip the test. All of the tests are sensitive.

Also be careful with stuff that has poppy seeds on it, one of my coworkers tested positive for Opium after he had eaten a muffin with poppy seeds on it three or four days before he was tested.

So, they can find out you’re on anti-depressants, or something like that?

I hope it goes without saying that any drugs they find on you-prescription wise, would be confidential?

Uh, dude, if he ate it “3 or 4” days before the test it wasn’t the poppy seed muffin that tripped a positive. Unless he’s on kidney dialysis.

Opiates - of any origin - are usually undetectable after 72 hours (except with kidney or liver disease where the body has trouble detoxifying substances). When I worked in the drug rehab field we tested the “poppy seed” theory. If you eat A LOT of poppy seed you MIGHT test positive in a 12-24 window - but no way 3-4 days later. Your coworker was doing more than muffins, OK?

That said - not only are legal prescription drugs a concern, in some industries even over the counter drugs are a reason for worry. For instance, in aviation all over the counter cold, sinus, and allergy medicines are banned. The reason is that in many individuals they can cause elevated blood pressure and rapid heartbeat (possibly triggering cardiac problems), or can cause drowsiness, or slow reflexes, or cause dizziness and/or vertigo. These “safe” OTC medicines have been implicated in a few crashes. So, if you’re an office worker having urine full of Sinutab may be perfectly OK but if you’re an airline pilot you could lose your job and/or license, assuming you don’t have a bad reaction and kill yourself and possibly your passengers as well.

Wait a minute…

Valium is a brand name for the generic drug diazepam, which is a benzodiazapine agent. Since when has Valium ever been considered an opiate/morphine derivative?

Valium is a benzo, yes, and not an opiate.

Many drug tests screen for a variety of substances. Back when I was in the drug rehab business our basic test covered alcohol, opiates, benzos, PCP, and THC (marijuana).

Drug testing is going to adapt to changing conditions- In the illegal area, you can bet that MJ is tested for in say, Hawaii, Cocaine in Columbia, and “Ecstasy” in other areas, etc., and I suspect they are tailoring their equipment for Oxycontin in Appalachia on the prescription side of the house, since it is extremely popular at this point in time.

Sadly, some drugs such as LSD see a surge in popularity with respect to drug testing, since there isn’t a practical urinalysis for it. In effect, a (let’s face it) rather harmless substance like weed is discarded for one of the most powerful substances around. Oops.

I failed a drug test for valium, but since I had the prescription handy, I was cleared.
From that point on, I have always hung on to those precious prescriptions.

I once took a drug test when I applied for a simple office job. Although I never had anything to fear, it was an offensive experience. However, when I agreed to the test, there were legal forms which spelled out specifically what substances were to be tested (namely, illicit substances). At the testing center, I was asked to provide a list of drugs I may have taken, prescription or otherwise. I then signed another document which essentially stated that any verifiable prescription drugs I listed would not be reported to my employer. It’s a private, personal health issue and not relevant to my employment. If I were taking Valium without a prescription, that would qualify as an illicit substance. That information would not be protected by the agreement I signed.

I’m sure conditions and requirements vary widely.

He got out of the classes that employees who failed were required to take, so someone must have believed he was telling the truth about the muffins…

As a practical matter, most employers test for what’s called the NIDA Five, which includes marijuana, opiates, amphetamine, cocaine, and possibly benzos, but I’m not for sure, and I don’t have my reference books handy to look it up. Some employers will look for other mood- and mind-altering substances if the job requires it, for example, heavy-equipment operators and such.

Guin, legally, they can’t look for psych meds. It is possible to do a blood assay for these, which your MD uses to check for toxicity, but an employer can’t. Psychiatric records, including medications, are covered under special sections of medical record privacy laws, and can’t be obtained without express permission from you that describes why the records are needed.

Blood donation, OTOH, is a different matter. It’s essential that the blood-bank staff knows what you’re taking and why. This is because traces of drugs can be harmful to a patient receiving the blood or products derived from it.