The Drug Testing Debate and the Security Profession



The ongoing debate over whether drug testing should be legal in the workplace has many different views. In this report I will show the merits of the arguments for and against drug testing by the views of Tamara Roleff’s article, “Workplace Testing Reduces Drug Use” and the opposing views from Jacob Sullum’s, “Workplace Testing Has Not Been Proven to Reduce Drug Use.”

These main principles will be applied to the security profession. It will show the effect that drug testing could possibly have over this specific group of employees and their work quality.

It will also show how the ethics that are expected of a security professional are affected by drug use and how they should react to any request for a drug test for pre-employment or randomly during employment.

The Debate of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Every business has a duty to their employees to maintain a safe work environment. They also have a duty to their customers to provide a safe product that is correctly assembled or that their business is conducting business to their fullest abilities.

Drug use and abuse among employees cause can huge problems within workplaces and hinder a person’s ability to perform their job. Should testing for these intoxicating substances be legal in the workplace?

All businesses are affected when employees are under the influence or use illegal drugs. The security profession is no different. These men and woman are entrusted with the duties to protect an employers merchandise, employees, and clients from any harm.

What effects would drug use on or off duty have on these professionals in respect to their execution of their assigned duties?

drug testing

The Argument for Drug Testing

Roleff’s, “Workplace Testing Reduces Drug Use,” argues that by testing all employees for drugs during pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, and after accident situations, the workplace is a safer and the business is more efficient.

She states that 9.4 million employees use drugs (Drug Abuse Costs Businesses, ¶1).

That is a huge segment of the population and these are the users that are employed.

Other problems Roleff says are related to the drug use are missing days from work, higher accident rates, lower productivity, and higher medical costs for the entire company, not just the user (Drug Abuse Costs Businesses, ¶2-3).

All of these adversely affect business’s financial outcomes. The inexpensive urine tests that are available are far more cost effective than the extra millions pumped into healthcare premiums and workers compensation claims (¶3).

The extra cost to the employer for the user is that they are 3.6 times more likely to harm someone during an accident and five times more likely to have to file a workers compensation claim against the employer (No Right to Illegal Behavior, ¶5)

They are unnecessary risks that a simple non-invasive test can hope to eliminate for the business.

These extra accidents and absent employees can be a great harm in the security industry. Guards may have to spend unnecessary amounts of time making sure that gaps are not created in coverage by employees that are lax in their attention to detail.

They may leave things unattended that can be stolen or broken by someone else which means extra wasted time investigating these claims.

A guard may have to leave a certain job to attend to fighting employees and escorting people away from each other if they are under the influence of drugs and turn violent against other employees or customers.

Companies should try to prevent these events from happening because they can be liable for their employee’s actions while they are on duty.

If it is the guards that are using drugs, even off duty, then there may be huge harm caused if they are not in complete awareness of their surroundings and paying attention to what they are doing.

If they are armed, they may not use complete judgment in a shoot or don’t shoot situations and cause death to someone that may not have been appropriate.

If they miss days then security could be stretched too thin and breeches in coverage may lead to losses in merchandise because they do not have enough manpower and presence to prevent break-ins or intrusions.

Roleff also attributes employee drug use as a high risk for illegal activities while on-duty (Crime on the Job, ¶1).

Drug use is expensive and not all employees make a high enough salary to cover their expenses so they may resort to stealing from the employer or other employees to make sure they have enough money to support their habit.

drug test at work

She also says that there is a high percentage of employees that use drugs that also deal with drugs at work to raise extra money to support their habit (Drug Abuse Costs Businesses, ¶3).

Security personnel should be on extra alert to watch out for warning signs of these events because they can cause major losses for the employer. Security guards that also use sometimes have extra access to merchandise or valuable property.

It can be devastating for a company to have a group of people that are entrusted with all of their profits and property stealing from them. It is ethically wrong for these guards to even place themselves in a situation that may look like they are not doing their duties.

Another good argument she gives as to the testing of employees for drugs is that since the use of the drugs they test for are illegal you have no right to be doing them from the start (No Right to Illegal Behavior, ¶2-3).

They are able to see whether are not you are of good moral character by testing for things you are not legally allowed to do in the United States. Security personnel is entrusted to uphold the law and if they can’t even follow the laws that they are supposed to enforce, they should not be allowed to stop others from illegal activities.

This should override the right to privacy because you are not allowed these behaviors for any reasons public or private. She is right in her claim that employers should not be allowed to publicly announce the results of a test, but they have the right to know if an employee is potentially setting them up for liability.

The Debate Against Drug Testing

Jacob Sullum’s argument in, “Workplace Testing Has Not Been Proven to Reduce Drug Use” is that he believes that drug testing does little to nothing to prevent or detect drug users in employees. He attributes that most employers do testing now to comply with federal standards to compete with other employers to attract employees (Why to Test, ¶1).

The lucrative government contracts were only given to companies that drug tested employees during the pre-employment process and after accidents so employers did it to better their chances at high paying contracts. It was to increase income, not to protect employees.

Another main point behind believing drug testing is not effective according to Sullum is that most companies do not test employees after the initial pre-employment test (Employees Aren’t Tested, ¶1).

Most people are able to give up drugs for a week or possibly a month for chronic users that need to get them out of their system especially if they know they will be required to take a test. If they know that is the only time that an employer will test them it is not a deterrent to future drug usage while employed with that company.

His last main argument is that there is very little solid data as to the true numbers and statistics that are related to drug-related incidents and usage (No Clear Evidence, ¶1).

Many employees are going to lie about the cause of accidents if they know they will not be tested for drugs if they were a cause.

He also says that most of the statistics that are reported in studies showing its effectiveness and cost saving figures are based on studies that are not valid, are biased, or incorrectly interpreted or reported (Weak Studies, ¶1-3).

random drug test at work


I believe that even though security personnel is usually hired by private companies, in order for them to conform to the standards of other law enforcement personnel they must cooperate with to solve criminal and civil cases they are expected to hold the same integrity standards.

This involves not using drugs and being honest at all times. Submitting to the drug tests to one way to show they are following the laws.

Since they do report the crimes to local, state, and federal authorities they should be required to submit to drug testing at any time just as other government contractors are required.

The security industry requires that its employees be in the best physical and especially mental state at all times.

They are ethically bound to do the best they can to protect all assets of an organization. Doing this requires them to prove they have upstanding moral character and are in complete control of themselves at all times.

The use of drugs in this industry should be strictly enforced with a no tolerance policy. This can prevent monetary losses, merchandise losses, and possibly even loss of life with the power and duties that they are entrusted.

Mandatory drug testing should always be a part of pre-employment and current employment testing for this field.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply (former