I'm going to be out of state when the pre-employment screeners find ADD drugs in my pee. Help!
June 2, 2010 10:23 PM   Subscribe

I expect to fail the pre-employment drug test I took this afternoon - but for legitimate reasons. I'm leaving the state tomorrow morning and won't be back until very late Sunday. Is there anything I can do to bolster my case and protect myself when the lab calls tomorrow or Friday?

I brought my ADD drug prescription with me to the pee-in-a-cup lab, since I take a prescription in the amphetamine family. The lab tech wouldn't take down any info about the prescription. She said that I'd almost certainly test positive for meth, and then I could tell the medical resource officer about the prescription and that would probably be good enough. But she couldn't tell me whether I'll need to provide any documents or proof to the MRO.

I'm flying 2,000 miles tomorrow. I'm worried that I'll be asked to come in for a second test, or to provide documentation of my prescription, or contact info for my doctor, and that a failure on my part will lead me to lose a job I'm really eager to get.

Should I print out documents about my prescription from my insurance company's prescription management site? Photocopy the pill bottle to fax if needed? Should I look up labs in Iowa so I have somewhere to go if I'm asked to re-take the test?

And this: My doctor has an established history of not calling third parties back. She's independent, not affiliated with any insurance companies, and doesn't really want to have anything to do with anyone other than her patients. It once took her more than a week to call back my insurance company when it had a question about the prescription she had written me. So there's one more thing to worry about. Any advice on this front?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Eh, when they call you say, "I have a prescription for ADD medication. I'm currently out of town. What documents do you need? I'll be glad to send them over on Monday morning."

I guess I'd make photocopies of stuff to fax, and take those with me, just in case there's some sort of an issue of time involved. But, I really doubt they're going to retest you if you have a prescription that matches what they found.
posted by Netzapper at 10:28 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

A copy of your prescription should be something you can get from your doctor yourself. No third-parties there.

Also, make sure the drug test lab doesn't notify your prospective employer about the failure until after you had a chance to explain yourself.
posted by twblalock at 10:45 PM on June 2, 2010

twblalock - the woman who took my pee cup said the "MRO" would call me before contacting my employer, because false positives/legit explanations are pretty common for amphetamines.

Netzapper - I'm kind of worried that I won't be allowed to take until Monday, since I was told I had to pee in the cup within 24 hours to qualify for the job. They're obsessed with moving quickly in the pee-in-a-cup industry. But yeah, I guess photocopies should probably be good enough.

Ugh. The hiring process is a dangerous place for a neurotic person to linger.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:02 PM on June 2, 2010

I'm kind of worried that I won't be allowed to take until Monday, since I was told I had to pee in the cup within 24 hours to qualify for the job. They're obsessed with moving quickly in the pee-in-a-cup industry. But yeah, I guess photocopies should probably be good enough.

The reason they move quickly, at least in the beginning, is so that you don't have time to fuck around with your results by either not taking your drugs for a couple days or by trying to flush your system. They're trying to catch illegitimate users red handed. This is smart, since some of the drugs for which they're testing (coke and meth) are out of your system in just a few days.

Having gotten the sample, they should be willing to relax a little bit and wait until you're back in town for you to provide the documentation they request. They lose basically nothing by waiting now, since a retest would show identical results, and any valid prescription would be dated before the testing date. There's nothing you could do in the time between now and Monday that would screw up the integrity of the test. [Well, I guess you could forge docs, but I don't think they're probably too worried about that since they can independently confirm.]

If they aren't willing to wait, I'd suggest getting a little tough with them. Explain that you will hold their company responsible for providing a false result to your employer, and that you will seek recompense. Be vague, but your goal is to imply you'll sue them if they don't act reasonably and wait for you to provide legitimate documentation.

Also, photocopies are going to be just fine if faxes are just fine. A fax is just a photocopy sent over a phoneline. That it's second-generation won't matter one whit, so long as it's still clear.
posted by Netzapper at 11:18 PM on June 2, 2010

1. Make copies of your prescription information to fax to them upon request.
2. Go on your trip. Like you said, you should probably look up labs at your destination, just in case.
3. Give them your doctor's number. Get a new doctor when this is all over. Who wants a doctor that has a tendency to cause problems because they are too lazy to call back third parties?

One more thing, be sure to talk to the prospective employer if you haven't heard anything shortly after the test to make sure everything is good to go. I've heard of employers simply not contacting the person or giving them the a vague "we're unable to hire you" speech when a person pees a positive, so be prepared to press the issue if it looks like the hiring process isn't going anywhere.
posted by Jambi at 4:29 AM on June 3, 2010

Request that the specimen be retested using GCMS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectronomy). Every lab that does drug testing is capable of providing this service. The test is so highly precise in its analysis it can tell the difference between the presence of multiple substances in the same drug class. For instance, it is common in the drug court program I work for that clients will come into the program with legitimate prescriptions for pain or anxiety medications which we suspect they don't need for medical purposes but are seeking to legitimately abuse while under court supervision. One way we support our case is to do a GCMS on a positive specimen and then look at what's in it. If dude has a Xanax script and is testing positive for benzodiazpines, we'll often find that under closer analysis he is actually testing positive for Xanax, Klonopin and Valium. Ditto with a Percocet script, a GCMS may reveal that in a positive specimen for opiates there is also Vicodin and heroin as well as Percocet, and then we can make the case to his doctor that he is not using his prescriptions legitimately and they are interfering with his progress in treatment. In your case a GCMS will be able to tell the difference between Adderal and methamphetamine and with your prescription from the doctor this should be very easy to resolve.
posted by The Straightener at 5:48 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you have an HR contact at your new/potential employer? Why not get in touch and say, "I went in for the drug screening and brought all of my prescription information with me. The person who did my screening said my meds would make me test positive for illegal drugs, but then said she couldn't take my prescription info. I have to travel this week, so can you help me work out what I need to do for follow-up if my test does come back with a false-positive?"

Proactively asking, "How should I handle this?" as if the whole thing is just a formality will look a lot better than saying, "Oh, uh, that? That was a false positive but now I'm out of town and can't do the second screening..." after the fact. Your potential employer doesn't need to know what prescriptions you're on, or why, but a general question about the logistics of following up on this could be to your advantage.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:17 AM on June 3, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm a former human resources rep, and this came up fairly frequently when we made new hires. I'd recommend talking to the HR dept. that just hired you and let them know about your concerns; that you're on a doctor-prescribed medically necessary medication which may trigger a false positive on your drug test, and that you won't be able to retake the test until x date due to travel. (It's up to you if you want to tell them which med.) In my office we were generally pretty flexible about it and as long as the candidate talked to us about it first, we'd allow them to re-take the test as soon as they could. If you go this route though; only talk to HR, not your new boss/supervisor/team lead, because HR is generally more strict about compliance to privacy laws than the hiring supervisors who may not be aware of those laws.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 6:43 AM on June 3, 2010

Are you using LabCorp or some other huge company? They have facilities everywhere.
posted by schmod at 6:46 AM on June 3, 2010

Thanks folks. I called my HR contact just now, and she confirmed that this is incredibly common and that I shouldn't stress about it.

Jambi: I'm not firing my doctor for being a flake about returning phone calls, unless you can recommend another awesome Portland metro area ADD/ADHD specialist who offers therapy, can provide prescriptions, and is taking new patients. They're hard to come by.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2010

HR Manager chiming in here as well. Cuddles makes a very good point in maintaining contact with the HR at the hiring company. Take the temperature of the HR person, though. Some of my brethren may react to the fact that you are on meds (even though they are not supposed to, by law). Personal health information is private and you should only tell them if you are comfortable doing so.

Also, from a hiring standpoint, companies tend to be in a rush to get offers out, accepted and start dates confirmed. Everyone wants you to start last week. You may be able to determine the urgency by talking to HR. I've had senior managers make snap-judgements about candidates whose process does not go textbook smooth, and they may say, "too much trouble, on to the next candidate". Short-sighted, stupid reaction? Absolutely.

I only say this because I've seen these things many times in many different companies. I am not trying to be alarmist or pee-in-your-Cheerios, please understand that. Stay in touch with your HR person, be up front (when necessary) and they will appreciate your cooperation - and that can help pave the way to an offer.

Good luck to you.
posted by mnb64 at 9:56 AM on June 3, 2010

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