Pre-employment drug test and Valium? Have I Screwed Myself Out of a Job?
December 2, 2007 3:30 PM   Subscribe

I took 5mg of Valium Saturday night around 2am. Now I find out that the part-time job I applied for wants me to come in on Monday afternoon for a physical and drug test. Will the Valium still be detectable?

I applied for a part-time position at a hospital (but I won't be working with patients). This weekend I found out that my father has cancer and it's been a hellish few days. Last night my mother gave me 5mg of Valium as I was feeling pretty anxious. (I have been legally prescribed Valium at higher doses in the past for anxiety but I don't have a current prescription.) It was stupid of me to take it knowing that I might be up for the position but to be honest I wasn't even thinking about it. I just wanted to get some sleep and stop freaking out for a few minutes. Today I found out that the hospital would like me to come in tomorrow afternoon for a drug test. Have I screwed myself?

Particulars on me: I'm female, I weigh around 200 pounds and this is the only medication other than ibuprofen and OTC cold medicine I've taken in months. The drug test will take place about thirty hours after I took the Valium (which didn't even help anyway). Will it show up on the test? Is there anything I can do? Should I try to reschedule? Should I be up front with the tester? I would really like to get this position.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
If you had a prescription, I can't imagine any reasonable employer having a problem with you taking a Valium for the stress of learning your father has a serious illness.

However, the fact that you took it without a legend drug without prescription is possibly a crime and the employer will probably look askance at that. Especially when the employer is a hospital.

It is very common for hospital staff to steal drugs because they "really need them" for this or that crisis or condition. For you to admit that you took valium without a prescription, regardless of the reason, will likely present big problems for you in seeking a job at the hospital.
posted by jayder at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2007

Whoops ... I meant, of course, "the fact that you took a legend drug without prescription ..."
posted by jayder at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2007

The half-life of diazepam looks to be 20-100 hours. However, your dose was pretty small (standard dose looks like 10mg) especially compared to your body weight. Although I have no idea how sensitive the test is, there does seem to be some possibility.

Can you go to your doctor Monday morning and get a current prescription? If it shows up on the screen, they probably wouldn't be able to tell when you took it.

Alternatively, call the hospital and tell them you just found out that your father has cancer and ask to reschedule the drug test. That might actually be best. Most employers would understand that you need to support your family at such a time.

Better yet, get the prescription and postpone the drug test. That way if you do need to take some more Valium, you can take it without fear of flunking the drug test.
posted by kindall at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

They may not be testing for that drug specifically. Do you know whether it will be a urine test, a blood test, or nail/hair? Anyway, here's a decent primer.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2007

And good luck with your dad and the new position. Try to take it easy on yourself during your stressful times.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:46 PM on December 2, 2007

According to Wikipedia's info on Drug Testing the window for testing Benzodiazepines is up to 3 days for Urine and 6-48 hours for blood.

I don't know how kosher it is to recommend this but since your meeting is in the afternoon you could always get an early morning appointment with a doctor and try to get a legal prescription to cover yourself just in case.

On preview what Kindall said.
posted by Octoparrot at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2007

thirding kindall's advice. best thing to do is get the prescription (cancer can hang around for a while--you may need some more before this is over anyway) and reschedule the blood test. just tell them your father was just diagnosed with cancer, and you need to take a couple of days to help your family.

and then go be with your family. i'm sorry to hear the news. i hope he's going to be okay.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:07 PM on December 2, 2007

So you took one of your old prescribed pills due to a current stress. Is this a problem? ;)
posted by caddis at 4:15 PM on December 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

caddis might be onto something. Grab evidence of your previous prescription.
posted by effugas at 5:33 PM on December 2, 2007

FWIW, I recently told a medical provider I had a few pills of a similar drug (xanax) left over from a previous provider's prescription, and the current provider encouraged me to use them as needed. I can't say that's evidence of a "defense", but I think it does bolster the reasonableness of caddis' suggestion.

Having said that, I agree wholeheartedly with kindall's advice on rescheduling. If anything, at least save yourself the additional anxiety of worrying about the test, etc. when you could be with your family, etc. Good luck to you.
posted by bunnycup at 5:42 PM on December 2, 2007

When I took a drug test for the government (hospital), I simply told them I had a prescription for a benzodiazapene, an amphetamine and a codeine painkiller and they didn't blink an eye. They also didn't ask me for proof (although I could have supplied it easily).

If you think about it, especially with benzos, they are often given on a PRN (take as needed) basis. If your old prescription said "take as needed" and is not too old (like, less than five years), even if you can't produce a bottle, I'm betting you are going to be fine if you just say, "I am prescribed benzos" before the test.
posted by nursegracer at 6:22 PM on December 2, 2007

Fucking quit worrying. Seriously.

IF, for some bizarre reason, they test even test for benzos (which is routine in the ED, but perhaps not in employment), and it even registers in your system (unlikely), you explain it's for medical purposes. Tons of people routinely use them for sleep aids (xanax, valium, clonazapam).

Worst case scenario, go to your/a doctor. Unless he/she is a total asshole, they'll get you right with the man via a simple note. Remember, also, your medical info isn't anyone's business. Obviously finding illegal drugs is a different story.
posted by docpops at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2007

>I have been legally prescribed Valium at higher doses in the past for anxiety but I don't have a current prescription.

What's a "current" prescription? Surely prescriptions don't actually have end dates on them after which you're supposed to throw away, or stop taking, the drugs?

Especially a prescription to help with transient things like insomnia, which presumably is to be taken when required, not like with antibiotics which have a time-critical element to the dosage.

If you mention to them (if it comes up) that you took valium recently, and then say "I was prescribed valium by my doctor to help me sleep" those statements are both true, although just slightly misleading in the implication they create.

It seems as if you think the employer might ask you to produce evidence of the prescription, but that seems very unlikely, and something that few people would be able to do anyway.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:45 PM on December 2, 2007

There's no point in adding a lie to the stress the poster is going through, and Valium is never the first choice for a short-acting sleep medication (at least here in the UK).
So either postpone or simply tell them you took a prescribed medication. They will be more interested in your honesty and it is likely that there will only be trace in your urine, if they saw evidence of heavier usage that is when they are likely to ask for corroboration of your perscription.

I think you'll be fine poster, good luck with it and strength for the road ahead
posted by Wilder at 2:35 AM on December 3, 2007

I think they generally only test for five things:

1) marijuana
2) cocaine
3) opiates
4) pcp
5) amphetamines

So you'll probably be okay.
posted by mai at 8:49 PM on December 5, 2007

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