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to more efficient drug-testing method
New technology allows for easier processing, quicker retrieval
Published on Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Kansas State Collegian
Businesses all over the country have turned to body-fluid
analysis to test potential employees for illegal drug use, and
the process is becoming easier and cheaper than ever.
Wanda Coleman, assistant manager of Dillons West, said her
store no longer uses traditional urine testing. Instead, she
said, they test the saliva of job applicants.
Coleman said she has to ensure the person being tested hasn't
had a mint or any other candy in their mouth within 10 minutes
of the test.
"It's kind of like a toothbrush. You stick it in their mouth
for two minutes, and it gathers saliva," she said.
Aaron Smith, senior in digital art, said he thinks illegal
drug screening is necessary for employers. He has undergone
several illegal drug screenings for employment purposes.
Employers may encounter problems, Smith said, if their
employees call in sick or don't come to work because of
illegal drug use. He said he would always be willing to
cooperate with employers when it comes to drug screening.
Coleman said Dillons administers illegal drug screening
because of corporate policy. After the specimen is collected,
she said, the store then sends it in for testing and receives
results back within four days. This is an improvement over the
traditional urine testing the store used to do, she said.
Most companies that analyze these samples are located on the
east coast, she said. The company the store uses for the
saliva tests is located in Kansas. Dillons has been
administering the saliva test for the last 18 months, she
All potential employees take the test before they can be
hired. However, hired employees undergo additional testing
only if they are involved in an on-the-job accident.
"I think it's a good thing to use drug testing," Coleman said.
"We are big on safety -- you don't want someone to be smoking
pot and then coming to work and being clumsy."
Randy Wilkinson, human relations specialist at Sears in
Manhattan Town Center, said Sears also uses illegal drug
screening as a part of the hiring process. The store uses a
new local company that offers results instantaneously,
compared to the two-week wait with other companies.
Wilkinson describes the new test as similar to a pregnancy
test. Once the specimen is taken, the test administrators
stick an indicator into the urine to see if there are traces
of THC in the sample.
Sears employees are tested before they are hired or in case of
an accident or suspicion of drug use.
"There is actually a correlation between drugs and theft,"
The screening is administered within 24 hours of an employee's
hiring, he said. This helps cut down on the possibility of
someone circumventing the test if they have been using
The test is given in a secure environment, he said. If someone
does test positive on the initial screening, the specimen is
sent in for an actual analysis. In these cases, a medical
examiner will call the individual to see if he or she is
taking any prescription drugs that may have shown up on the
The same course of action is used with the saliva testing.
Coleman said the medical examiner investigates any positive
result before notifying the Dillons store of any problems with
"We don't want to accuse someone of being a drug user if they
aren't," she said.