Drugs of Abuse Testing (DAT)

Last Updated: June 21, 2018

Definition - What does Drugs of Abuse Testing (DAT) mean?

Drugs of abuse testing is a procedure used to determine whether an individual has been exposed to certain substances, called drugs of abuse. Drugs of abuse are those classified by the federal government as having a potential for misuse or dependency. Drugs of abuse testing may be conducted using several different means including home test kits, point-of-collection tests, or laboratory testing.

Samples of hair, blood, urine, or saliva may be used for drugs of abuse testing. Testing may be performed to assist in providing an individual with medical treatment or for criminal prosecution. Employers often conduct drugs of abuse testing as part of their workplace health and safety or drug-free workplace programs. Transportation employees holding safety-sensitive positions are subject to drugs of abuse testing under federal Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines.

WorkplaceTesting explains Drugs of Abuse Testing (DAT)

Once a substance is classified as a drug of abuse, its use is regulated by federal law. Some substances, such as prescription medications, classified drugs of abuse may have permissible medical uses. The use of other drugs having no beneficial purpose is strictly prohibited. Each federally designated drug of abuse is classified according to the level of risk it poses. Risk factors include not only the potential for addiction and abuse but also the potential physical and psychological damage resulting from such use.

These drugs of abuse are then listed in "Schedules" according to their potential for harm. These scheduled levels of classification range from Schedule V drugs that pose the least risk to the most harmful Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs have no recognized medical use and are considered highly dangerous.

Current DOT regulations require that safety-sensitive employees undergo drugs and alcohol testing under specific circumstances such as pre-employment, random, and post-accident.This testing is designed to detect an employee's use of selected Schedule I, II and III drugs of abuse including marijuana (THC), cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), opiates (codeine, morphine, and heroin), and phencyclidine (PCP).

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