Drug testing is not a matter of privacy

Drug testing is a frequent object of professional discussion in literature. Much has been written and said about drug testing and its implications for privacy. Thousands of employees are confident that mandatory drug testing is a direct violation of their rights. Others believe that drug testing is needed to promote safety and productivity in the workplace.

The Army Drug Testing Program obligates soldiers and leaders to be screened for drug abuse at least once a year. Despite numerous ethical controversies, drug testing is essential for the lives and wellbeing of U.S. soldiers and those working in the United States Army. It is imperative that those working for the U.S. Army pass a drug test at least once a year, to guarantee their compliance with the norms and standards of military performance.

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Drug testing is a frequent object of professional discussion in literature. Despite the growing popularity of drug tests in the workplace, many employees believe that drug testing violates their rights.

Certainly, the current state of drug testing systems is not without controversy: “testing laboratories’ shortcomings can mistakenly brand innocent workers drug abusers, ending their careers” (Zuckerman, 2000, p.A24). This is part of the reason why many employees try to beat the system, diluting their urine samples or purchasing drug-free urine and prosthetics online (Anonymous, 2001).

The United States Army runs a drug testing program, aimed to promote a drug-free workplace environment and secure military operations from drug-related failures. Under the Army Drug Testing Program, each soldier is obliged to pass a drug test at least once a year (ASAP, 2010).

The main goals of the program are (a) to keep soldiers from using and abusing drugs; (b) to let commanders assess the military and security fitness of their soldiers; and (c) to create a foundation for taking timely appropriate actions in terms of those, who show positive test results (ASAP, 2010).

Deontological and utilitarian ethics justify mandatory drug testing in the workplace, including the U.S. Army. From the viewpoint of deontology, drug abuse is a direct violation of the security and workplace standards in the army. As a result, drug testing is not a matter of privacy violation but an effective instrument of detecting those, who use and abuse drugs.

Drug testing reflects military professionals’ striving to follow the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and good will. From the utilitarian perspective, drug testing improves safety and security in the workplace. This is particularly the case of military professionals, who need a sober mind and clear reason to successfully meet their military objectives.

Certainly, drug tests’ shortcomings may lead to unpredictable results and hold soldiers responsible for what they never committed. The imperfections of drug testing are a matter of serious ethical concern. Routine drug tests can be extremely intrusive, if other individuals observe the process, to guarantee that there is no urine sample tampering (ACLU, 1997). Drug testing may reveal the presence of other substances and medical conditions in subjects, which is a direct violation of their privacy (ACLU, 1997).

Despite these controversies, drug testing in the army is ethically and legally justified. The U.S. Army was created to protect the country from external threats, but it can become a threat to itself and others if soldiers use and abuse drugs. Military professionals are very similar to pilots, drivers, and emergency rescue specialists.

They carry a great deal of social responsibility for their acts. Most drug testing shortcomings can be easily overcome: advances in technology provide ample opportunities to improve the drug testing process and the quality of drug testing results. Medical professionals must develop drug testing strategies to promote a drug-free atmosphere in the U.S. Army and beyond.

References

ACLU. (1997). Privacy in America: Workplace drug testing. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from http://www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform_technology-and-liberty/privacy-america-workplace-drug-testing

Anonymous. (2001). Drug testing: The things people will do. The American Salesman, 46(3), 20-23.

ASAP. (2010). Drug testing: About the program. Army Substance Abuse Program. Retrieved from http://pubssod1.acsap.hqda.pentagon.mil/sso/pages/public/resources/upl-testing-about.jsp

Zuckerman, L. (2000). Workers get greater drug test protection. New York Times, A24.