Historically, drug tests have been used by the criminal justice system during parole and by sporting bodies to test athletes. However, many companies have now adopted drug testing for prospective and already hired employees, and there are consequences if you fail the test. So, what happens if you fail a drug test?
After taking a drug test, the most disturbing question that comes to mind is, “What will happen if I fail the test?” Will you lose the job opportunity? Will you get in legal trouble? Or you’ll get another chance to retake the test! Well, the answer to these questions depends on why you’re being tested, the specific laws you’re governed under, and the leniency of those involved, among other factors.
In this post, we are going to discuss the consequences of failing a drug test and the available options.
Consequences of a Failed Drug Test
Failing a drug test can have significant consequences. It can result in the loss of a job or potential employment opportunities, damage to one’s reputation, strained personal relationships, legal issues, and even potential professional licensing or certification problems. Moreover, it may also lead to decreased self-esteem and personal well-being, highlighting the importance of making responsible choices. To unravel this topic, let’s dive deeper into the specific reasons for being tested.
The employment consequences of failing a drug test will depend on a company’s guidelines. It will also depend on whether you are a prospective or existing employee.
If a drug test is one of the steps in the hiring process, a company is likely to avoid you if you fail the drug test. This is because most companies are wary of hiring employees who are drug users, as this may affect productivity.
If the drug test is random for employees in an organization, the consequences may range from a short-term suspension to termination, depending on the company. Therefore, you should review your company’s policies on drug users, as this may lead you to lose your job.
The Available Options
If you fail a drug test during the hiring stage, and you don’t want to lose that opportunity, you can ask the company for a test retake at a later date. Okay, it’s a long shot, but you have nothing to lose. Besides, you will lose the opportunity if you don’t do it.
If you fail a drug test while employed, the company’s measures against you will determine your options. For instance, if they give you a short-term suspension, you must demonstrate to your employer that you are reliable and productive upon returning to work and will avoid drug usage.
If the organization decides to release you, it may be too late. However, if you’ve been a reliable employee with a good track record, you can still plead with the company to give you a second chance. Here, you can assure them that you are ready to retake the test after some time and are prepared to seek professional counseling and drug and substance abuse treatment actively.
The Retake Test
The organization will administer the test to you after a couple of months to ensure you are sober enough and the drugs are out of your system if they give you a chance to retake it.
During this period, it is advisable that you seek professional drug counseling services on how you can avoid illegal drugs altogether. Passing the test during your retake will allow you to get back to work, but failing the test may result in termination without the opportunity for a second chance.
Most companies will also initiate follow-up tests from time to time, even after you have passed the retake test. This is to confirm that you have completely stopped using illegal drugs.
Failing a mandatory drug test while on parole can result in dire consequences. In this situation, the parole officer sends a violation report to a judge, who decides the actions to take against you. If luck is on your side, the judge will give you a warning and inform you of the consequences that might befall you if you continue using drugs during the probation period. If luck is not on your side, the parole officer will revoke the parole, and you will return to jail.
To ensure your safety, you should avoid illegal drugs during probation. If you fail multiple drug tests during this time, the chances of the parole officer revoking the parole are high.
What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in the Military
For military officers, failing a drug test does not have any dire consequences if there is no proof that you intentionally used the drugs. Without this evidence, no case can be held against you.
However, if there is tangible proof that you abused the drugs knowingly, you risk facing an administrative discharge. There are two types of administrative discharges, as shown below:
Bad Conduct Discharge
Engaging in misconduct, such as drug abuse, can subject military officers to court-martial and subsequent discharge. Offenders will face confinement in a military prison as an additional punishment before discharge. After the confinement, they will be released and no longer be part of the Armed Forces.
Dishonorable discharge is given to military officers who have engaged in reprehensible behavior. Reprehensible behavior involves shameful offenses, such as sexual assault, murder, desertion, and corruption. Most of the perpetrators of these acts have often been under the influence of illegal drugs and substances.
Upon dishonorably discharging an officer, they take away any benefits they were entitled to. Additionally, U.S. federal law prohibits such individuals from owning firearms.
Can a Military Officer Avoid Failing the Drug Test?
The military subjects military officers to a comprehensive drug testing process designed to provide accurate results because they consider illegal drug abuse among the armed forces as gross misconduct with severe consequences. Therefore, military officers receive advice to abstain from drugs as much as possible to prevent discharge from the army.
However, military officers use other unconventional methods to avoid failing the drug test, even after they have used the drugs. These methods include using synthetic urine, urine dilution, and natural detox. Read more about these methods here.
The Bottom Line
Failing the drug test has dire consequences for job seekers and those already employed. So, what happens if you fail a drug test? Before submitting a job application to any company, you should check their drug usage policy. If a zero-tolerance policy exists for illegal drug users, delaying job applications until sober is wise. Even if employed, random drug tests may arise, so avoiding illegal drugs is advisable.