The 2010 unemployment extension bill is targeted for a new proposed amendment coming from Senator Orrin Hatch. He wants everyone who collects unemployment benefits or receives welfare to be drug tested before getting their money. Hatch believes this will be one way to curb drug abuse, according to CBS News.
First of all, anyone who receives unemployment benefits will need to qualify by having a work history to fit the criteria that are already in place. If a small group of people receiving unemployment benefits goes out and buys drugs with their money, they will be the same ones who purchased drugs with their paychecks.
People who are using drugs will find a way around the drug-testing component, making the drug-testing useless. The people already invested in drug abuse will more than likely know how long a drug stays in their system, and abstain from doing drugs for the few days needed for the drugs to clear their system. Another way they will get around the drug testing is to find a doctor to prescribe an opiate pain killer for some “pain” that they are in. With the prescription in hand, they will be excluded from the drug testing of an opiate because they will test positive legally.
Drug testing is very limited. You do not do a drug test and, bingo, every substance you have in your system shows up; it does not work this way. You have to test for certain types of drugs to find what you are looking for. Opiates will show up, but it will not tell you what type of opiate it is. The illegal drug heroin will show up as an opiate, the same as a legally prescribed Percocet or Vicodin pain killer will. If the drug user does have a legal prescription for one of the many opiate pain killers, his/her defense is that it was the painkiller showing up. The drug testing cannot differentiate between the two. The same goes for other types of drugs.
Of course, a doctor does not prescribe these drugs for that reason. The drug user goes into a doctor’s office reporting the symptoms needed for the drug he/she wants. Many drug users will doctor-shop until they get one who will prescribe what they are looking for.
Drug testing is done by testing the urine for illegal substances. Many of the drug users who have needed to supply urine for drug testing just use clean urine (urine from someone who does not do drugs) for their drug test. They sneak the urine in and replace this for theirs.
The US Department of Human Services also maintains that there are many products sold that mask the illegal drugs that drug tests were manufactured to detect. They have tested many that significantly mask the detection of illegal drugs in urine. This is another large obstacle in the way of government drug testing in order to receive unemployment and welfare benefits
According to the website Health Tests Direct, most of the illegal drugs that people become addicted to or that are most abused clear your system within two days. This means, after two days, they can no longer be detected. This will just prompt drug users to abstain for two days before their drug test. You could not possibly do a random drug check with people on unemployment. The testing will need to be done when they come in to pick up their check.
Drug testing for substances does not work unless it is randomly done. In order to do this, the government workers in charge of drug testing the people on unemployment will need to call people in to do this. This would be an impossible task, and, besides, the drug user will screen the calls and not answer back for a few days, saying he/she was out of town. By then, the user will be clean to drug test and pass it.
When drug testing is done for criminal purposes, the person mandated to drug test needs to show up weekly at probation. The probation department randomly chooses what week to test them. This keeps the drug user on their toes, and limits the days that are safe to do drugs without detection due to the element of surprise. The same goes in work places that randomly do drug testing; the workers are there five days a week, and can be called at anytime. Again, the element of surprise.
How do you sentence the unemployed person to do this? Just because they are unemployed, are they going to need to show up someplace weekly? Because, if it is only once a month to get their checks, the drug testing is an even bigger waste of money. They will just need to stay clean the two days before their appointment.
The bottom line is, the drug abuser will get around these tests, making this proposal of drug testing the people collecting unemployment and welfare a useless waste of our tax money. This costly program will just not work.
Health Test Direct,
US Department of Human Services,