Friday, January 30, 2009

The Redemptive Drug Test

In most businesses, a positive test for drug use results in termination. I think it’s possible to create a safe work environment while also running a redemptive drug-testing program. Such a program seeks to balance personal safety while facilitating long-term life change. For a faith venture business that creates opportunity for individuals rebuilding lives from addiction or prison, this type of drug-testing policy is an absolute necessity and involves techniques to discern a person’s willingness to change.

One of the most helpful tools in this quest is regular random drug-tests. These are performed in an environment where it’s communicated in numerous ways and settings that it’s better to reach out for help if one is using drugs than to attempt to hide such use. In the face of an imminent drug tests, we then observe an employee’s willingness to admit to use across a spectrum of four possible approaches.

The person who is most likely to succeed at overcoming an addiction is the one who comes to us for help before the administration of a drug test. This employee seems to understand that they have a problem and wants to find a way out of the addiction. A close second on the spectrum is the person who admits to use on the way to the drug testing facility. This is followed by the individual who admits to use after the test but before the results are back. The final point on the spectrum is the employee who denies use after a positive test result occurs.

These four possible responses are ordered on a spectrum from most likely to succeed to most likely to fail. The employee who denies use after a positive result is the one who is most likely in denial. This array helps us to craft an appropriate redemptive response. When someone tests positive for drug use, one possible choice is to suspend the person from work for at least a week. We ask them to return in a week with a willingness to enroll in an addiction program and an agreement to regular drug tests. We communicate that future positive test results will result in termination. If they return in a week with the assignment completed we are on our way to seeing a person succeed at overcoming drug use.

1 comment:

Bapahanna said...

Jim:
I like this approach. I wish that a similar policy could be used for sex offenders.