Drug Testing in the Media

Background

IPA officers have long been aware of the tremendous impact of urine based drug tests on the lives of IPA members. Indeed, the paruresis population faced the “perfect storm” when President Nixon started drug testing returning Viet Nam War veterans in the 1970’s and President Reagan expanded drug testing to American civilians in the 1980’s. At one time, some 80% of American companies were using some kind of urine based drug testing for employment and/or random screening of employees.

Today, the rate of drug testing has declined to 60% of American companies due to the testing costs, employee discontent, and time lost in fighting legal challenges. In one notable case in 1994, a medical doctor with paruresis was fired from his job with a hospital after he was unable to provide a urine specimen. He warned them about his shy bladder prior to the test but was assured things could be worked out afterward. He was unable to provide a urine sample, his employment was terminated, and then he sued for damages due to his lost medical practice. He was awarded ¼ million dollars in actual and punitive damages by a jury who noted that the inability to provide a urine specimen did not equate to a refusal to take a drug test.

IPA’s Drug Testing Policy

The inability to provide a urine specimen does not equate to a refusal to take a drug test. Those citizens who are or were unable to provide a urine specimen should be allowed to participate in one of the alternative drug test methods suggested by SAMHSA in a 1994 proposed Regulation Revision. Alternative drug tests include hair, saliva, sweat (aka patch), or blood specimens (if a medical technician is available).

In a March 2006 online poll carried by the IPA internet Talk Forum, 63% of 109 paruretic participants indicated that they had been drug tested for either employment or judicial reasons. Another 7% indicated they had made job, location or other decisions based on the possibility of urine based drug testing. Since up to 7% of Americans have paruresis symptoms based on a Harvard Medical School Survey and an independent Canadian survey, this is a huge impact for American businesses when qualified employees are getting harder to find due to baby boomer retirements.

After the media appearance of the St. Louis Post article and the Dilbert comic strips below, IPA Staff Director Dr. Steven Soifer was requested by the Office Of Management and Budget to meet with them to discuss the new SAMHSA regulations. Is this coincidence, serendipity, or growing public and governmental awareness of the paruresis disorder?

Recent Media Appearances of the Drug Testing Subject

Thursday, August 5, 2006, Internet Home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
http://www.STLtoday.com

Medical condition keeps some from drug tests - and jobs.

Quotes …

By Deborah L. Shelton
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
07/17/2006

… Like job candidates at many companies, she was required to undergo drug screening. But she has a condition called paruresis, which can make providing a urine sample difficult, if not impossible.

Paruresis (pronounced: par-YOU-ree-sis) is a type of social anxiety disorder that prevents a person from using the toilet in a public restroom.

…To prepare for the test, White, …guzzled water nonstop before showing up at a West County testing laboratory last month. Still, even after waiting almost two hours, she could not urinate.

…White called New Frontier Bank in O’Fallon, Mo., and asked for a second chance, but a manager told her the job offer had been rescinded, she said.

…New Frontier Bank declined to answer questions about White’s situation, referring questions instead to ADP TotalSource, a human resources and employee assistance company. ADP TotalSource did not respond to requests for an interview.

…Soifer said some people had sued for discrimination and won.

“It’s one of these really gray areas,” he said. “Once our lawyer gets involved and contacts the company’s legal counsel and explains the situation, and explains that it could be a violation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the company often realizes they should provide reasonable accommodation.”

He recommended tests that utilize saliva, blood or hair samples instead of urine.

Some companies already use such tests because they are easier to administer, Soifer said.

The federal government is proposing new regulations for federal employees that would expand drug screening methods to hair, saliva, blood and sweat tests, which would prevent the dilemma.

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This website is NOT a substitute for medical or legal advice and does not constitute the practice of law, medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work, or any other mental health profession. If you are having trouble urinating, you should always contact a physician since difficulty with voiding can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. We are a group of professional people and people who have suffered with paruresis. We have assembled a board and a board of advisors to help people cope with urinary dysfunction that has a psychological or social origin. On this website, we are NOT practicing medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession. You should have your doctor evaluate your condition before diagnosing yourself, and seek the appropriate necessary mental health counseling if warranted. IPA, Inc. disclaims any and all legal liability whatsoever.

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