How to Get Started Drug Testing

PLEASE NOTE: DFWPAs last day of operation is September 30, 2022.

We have provided some basic information that will help you to get started. You will need to gather information from other sources as well.

One of our goals is to help you create and implement your organization's drug free workplace program and drug testing is an essential component to having an effective drug free workplace. 


Meeting your Industry Standards

Begin by finding out what your industry standards are for drug testing. Standards can vary from industry to industry. If there are no federal, state or industry standards, you may create your own testing guidelines.

We recommend you refer to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) because they set the standards for drug testing. On the other hand, if you are a federally regulated company, your requirements will be dictated by the regulatory agency you are affiliated with. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation is the federal agency that provides transportation regulations for our nation as a whole because they are concerned about public safety as well as employer and employee safety.

For this reason, transportation companies will have more extensive standards to comply with than other industries.

Types of Drugs Being Tested

There are many drugs that you can test for. One way to narrow it down, is to find out what drugs are most likely to be abused in your industry and in your area of the country.

We provide training for companies that will help them to understand the current trends. Currentlym the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends employers test for what are called the “SAMHSA 5”

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

Please go to to read more.

While private employers are not required to follow SAMHSA guidelines, doing so will help them to stay on safe legal ground. Court decisions have supported following the SAMHSA guidelines.

Types of Drug Testing

Employers can choose to test prior to hiring, during employment, and in order to return to work after an incident has occurred. Currently, there are 8 categories of drug testing:

  • Pre-hire screening
  • Pre-duty, periodic
  • Random
  • Post-accident
  • Reasonable suspicion
  • Return-to-duty
  • Follow-up

The type of testing you choose will depend on your goals.  For example, if you want to avoid hiring people that may be using drugs, pre-screening will be a critical drug testing component.  Likewise, having a policy for random drug testing helps to identify employees who are using substances on the job by preventing them  from preparing in advance of a scheduled drug test.  

The most common reason to test during employment is when an employer suspects alcohol or drug use while an employee is working.

We offer Supervisor Training that includes information about executing Reasonable Suspeicion.

Who Will Conduct Your Drug Testing?

  • Will it be done in-house?
  • Will you use breathalyzers and instant kits (saliva or urine) or will you do the collection in house and send the samples out?
  • Do you want a drug testing company to handle everything?

For a list of drug testing companies we recommend you conduct a Google search for drug testing companies in your area or ask your local trucking company who they use.

Once you choose a drug company they will help you with the rest of the process. You can also visit our Resources page for more information.

The Benefits vs. The Liabilities

Drug testing can save your company time and loss but it does cost money and it does take time to employ and enforce. Research studies show that the benefits of doing drug testing far outweigh the costs. Statistics show that there are less accidents, less loss of property, fewer workers compensation claims, lower absenteeism, and fewer fatalities.