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Drug Testing FAQs

Drug Testing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for employees

How long does it take to have a drug test?
It usually takes between 10-15 minutes, depending on a number of factors such as the time taken to answer any questions, how long it takes to complete the paperwork, how long it takes for the person to pass urine, and whether the sample needs to be sent to the laboratory for further testing. The screening test itself takes up to 5 minutes.

When will I know the results of my drug test?
You will be present for the entire on-site screening process and will be told of your results once the testing process is complete, ie. within 5 minutes of the commencement of the screening test process.

Who has access to my results?
The only people who will have access to your drug test results are yourself, your line manager (as written on your drug testing paperwork), and the DSTNZ drug testing technician who conducts your tests and who issues your formal report.

What do I need to bring along with me when I have a drug test?
You will need to bring photo identification such as a valid Driver Licence, Passport or Site Safe ID.

Should I have a lot to drink before my drug test?
It is recommended to have had 1 drink of water or other beverage in the 2 hours leading up to your drug test. Drinking too much may over-dilute your sample, causing the integrity checks to fail and may mean that that another sample is required. You should also avoid going to the toilet an hour prior to your drug test to ensure you are able to provide an adequate sample for testing.

How often can I be drug tested?
How often you can be required to undergo a drug test usually depends upon your employment contract and the policies at your workplace. It often depends on the role you have in the workplace, and the risks associated with that role.

How much notice does my workplace have to give me that I will be having a drug test?
Your workplace is not required to give you any notice, unless your specific employment contract and workplace policies state otherwise.

In what situations in my workplace can I be required to have a drug and/or alcohol test?
The circumstances around your drug test may vary, and this will be according to your company policies and procedures. It is becoming increasingly common for potential new employees to be required to undergo (and pass) a pre-employment drug screening test. Once employed by a company, drug and/or alcohol testing may be required in the following situations:
1. Random testing
2. Post-incident testing
3. Reasonable cause testing
4. Rehabilitation
5. Pre-employment/pre-contract
6. Internal transfer

With random drug testing, why do some people get drug tested more often than others? Who decides which employees are chosen for random drug testing?
We utilise a web-based randomisation tool for randomly selecting individuals from a list of employees to undergo drug testing, eliminating the risk of bias. Due to the nature of randomisation, some individuals will naturally be selected more often than others.

What drugs are you testing for?
An on-site drug screening test tests for 6 different drugs and their metabolites. These include: THC (cannabis), amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines.

Can other drugs be tested for?
Yes, a wide range of drugs may be tested for upon request. This may involve sending the sample to an accredited laboratory for further testing.

Do you test for alcohol?
In a standard urine drug screening test, alcohol is not tested for. Urine alcohol levels can be measured by forwarding the sample to the laboratory. We are able to conduct breath alcohol testing with our highly accurate Lifeloc breathalysers, giving results to the nearest 10 micrograms.

How accurate are the results of my drug test?
The results of your drug test are highly accurate. In the case of a failed screening drug test, the sample will be forwarded to an accredited laboratory for confirmation testing. Accredited laboratories utilise rigorous testing methods – the laboratory results are the final, confirmed results. In addition, at DSTNZ we are IANZ accredited and also enrolled in an ongoing External Proficiency Programme. This ensures that our testing systems and methods are to the highest standard.

What are integrity tests?
Integrity tests are checks done with every drug screening test with regards to the sample temperature, how diluted or concentrated the sample is, and whether anything has been added to the sample to possibly disguise the presence of drugs.

Do I have to have a urine drug test or can I have a saliva (‘oral fluid’) drug test?
Most drug tests will be based on a urine sample. In some cases it may be appropriate to conduct an oral fluid test. Oral fluid-based drug testing is not endorsed by IANZ.

Can you test for synthetic cannabinoids?
A standard urine drug screening test will not detect the presence of synthetic cannabinoids. There are on-site screening test kits for synthetic cannabinoids and these can be useful, however in most cases we would recommend laboratory testing.

What do all the lines on the drug test cup mean?
For the screening test cups that we utilise, typically the Eco II Cup, you will typically see two sets of lines for each drug category. The first set of lines that will appear in the testing ‘window’ will the control test lines, and are a sign that the test cup is working correctly. The next set of lines will appear underneath the control test lines and these are the actual drug test result. Often this second set of lines is much lighter in intensity than the control test lines. A line for each drug category in the test result area indicates a negative result. A full set of lines means that you have passed your drug test. If one or more lines fail to appear in the test result area, this is called a not-negative result and means that you have failed the screening test.

What happens if I fail a drug test?
If your drug screening test fails, the technician (drug tester) is required to send your sample to an accredited laboratory for further testing. There are specific exceptions to this is, for example in a pre-employment scenario whereby a particular workplace has specifically requested DSTNZ not to forward such samples to the laboratory.
In terms of what impact a failed drug test has with regards to your job, that will be dependent upon your employment contract and workplace policies. For many, a failed drug test means a stand down from work until the laboratory results are available. If the laboratory confirms that your sample is positive for the drugs tested for, this may result in disciplinary action by your employer.

How long does it take to get my results back from the lab?
Your confirmatory results will usually be available within 2 working days of being sent to the laboratory.

Can I refuse to take a drug test?
Yes, you can refuse to take a drug test, however in doing so you may put your employment in jeopardy. Some companies will treat a refusal to undertake a drug test in the same manner as a confirmed positive drug test, which may result in disciplinary action, possibly including termination of your employment contract. Every time you are required to undergo a drug test, you will be asked to read and sign a consent form. Without your consent, the drug test will not take place.

What are the laws around workplace drug testing in New Zealand?
There are no specific employment laws that govern workplace drug testing, however the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, the Privacy Act 1993, and the Human Rights Act 1993 are all important Acts providing frameworks and definitive requirements for employers, and for drug testing agencies.

Can you tell if someone tries to cheat their drug test?
Yes, there are a number of ways of determining whether or not someone has tried to cheat their drug test. Refer to the question above regarding integrity testing.

How long do drugs stay in my system for?
The elimination time for each drug varies. Cannabis is a fat soluble drug which is deposited in the fat cells around the body, and has the longest elimination time out of any of the drugs of abuse. It can take a number of weeks, and sometimes months in the case of a heavy or frequent user, to have sufficiently low levels of cannabis in their body to enable them to pass a drug test. Please refer to the Average Drug Elimination Times page on this site for more details.

If I choose to take drugs in my own time, why is my work allowed to drug test me?
Due to the time it takes for your body to eliminate drugs from your system, you run the risk of having residual drugs in your system whilst at work. The side effects of many of the drugs of abuse mean that you then pose an unacceptable health and safety risk in your workplace.

Why is my workplace concerned about prescription drugs?
Prescription drug abuse is on the increase. If you are prescribed any medication by your doctor it is important to only take it according to the instructions. You should also heed any medication alerts, particularly those which advise that the medication may cause drowsiness or render you unsafe for driving or operating machinery. Some employers require you to notify them of any medication you may be on that may put you and others at higher risk in your workplace, for example some strong pain killers. You should NEVER use someone else’s medications without the advice of a health care professional.

I don’t take drugs. Why did I fail my drug test?
There are many medications that people need to take for legitimate reasons that may cause a false positive drug screening test result. The way in which some people metabolise certain foods and sometimes alcohol may also give a false positive screening test result. Herbal remedies, vitamins and some pre-workout and other fitness supplements can have the same effect. If you fail your drug test for whatever reason, your sample should be forwarded to an accredited laboratory for further analysis. This will reveal exactly what drug or substance is in your body. We will assist your workplace in interpreting the results and what they mean.

I passed a home drug test using a kit from the pharmacy/health shop. Why did I fail my drug test at work?
The urine drug screening tests that we use are made to a high standard and have a Certificate of Compliance, according to the Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4308:2008. Many of the kits that are available for purchase by the public from pharmacies or health shops are not made to this standard and unfortunately often give unreliable results.

I no longer smoke cannabis but my mates do. Can I fail a drug test from passive smoking marijuana?
Generally speaking, passive smoking cannabis will not cause you to fail a drug screening test. For every drug tested for in a standard urine drug screen there are cut-off levels built into the test. This means that you can have a residual level of each drug in your system, up to the cut off level, and still pass your drug test.
Some recent research has shown that some individuals may fail a drug test after passive smoking cannabis, however it is very unlikely unless the individual concerned is in an unventilated room and is deliberately trying to inhale second-hand cannabis smoke.

If I fail my drug test, do you tell the police?
No. Your drug test results will never be disclosed to a third party without your permission. Your results will be known by yourself, your manager and our staff. Any paperwork pertaining to your drug test will be kept strictly confidential and retained according to the Privacy Act, and our own DSTNZ policies.

Do you keep a database of people who fail their drug tests?
No, we do not keep a specific database of people who fail their drug tests as this would be unethical and in breach of a number of New Zealand laws.