Recently, I got a job offer at a large company. Prior to accepting their offer, I carefully read through all of the legal documents they sent me and noted that there was no mention of any obligatory drug test. There was a brief mention of a "background check", however. That being said, I am inclined to believe that I will not be tested before I start employment since they never made me sign anything about it. Still, not knowing for sure makes me feel uneasy about the situation, and it would put my mind at ease if I could find out. I considered sending an email to my employer asking them, but I felt that it would make me sound guilty or concerned if I asked that directly.

How would an employer interpret this question? Would they candidly answer the question, or could they note that and have it somehow negatively reflect on me?

Couple of important details:

  • I have already accepted the offer.
  • I have not actually started employment yet; that will be in about two months.
  • If I were drug tested tomorrow, I would fail.
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    Do you have medical reasons supporting your use of this drug or is recreational use of it legal where you are? That can dramatically change your options.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 6:40
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    If you ask "Will there be a drugs test?", you can assume that there will be now.
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 10:42
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    @USER_8675309, do you think OP's new boss is stupid?
    – Kijewski
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 18:12
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    Also, the people who actually administer the drug test are frequently quite knowledgeable. Many years ago, my employer at the time was doing frequent random testing, and I got tapped. I was on pain pills at the time. I was also on asthma meds (and still am). The tester read the list, quitely told me that asthma was considered a disability under the ADA, and suggested that I look into the ADA rules as they applied to asthmatics. I had NOT told her I had asthma: she recognized it from the prescription list. Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:40
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    @Omegacron - I'm reminded of the sketch where the guy is stood with a huge grin on his face outside the room that say "Mandatory Drugs Tests". When his friend asks "Why are you so happy?" he replies "I'm just really keen to see what drugs they get us to test"...
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 21:10

7 Answers 7


If I were a prospective employer and was asked that by a new candidate, it would raise a number of red flags to me. I would wonder why you would be asking that, and then specifically asking you the reason you ask. I can't honestly see a way you can ask that question unless offering a bland reason such as "I hate needles". Depending on the person you are talking to, they may take that at face value, or not.

I think it would also be difficult to ask a less leading question such as "What sorts of tests do you do for your new employees?" without raising suspicion. As you said, you already know that if you were drug tested tomorrow, you would fail.

The only advice I can offer is to stop taking any illicit substances immediately, and then hope there is sufficient time if there are in fact any drug tests required. I would then strongly suggest that if you plan to take your profession seriously, that you stop taking substances that can adversely affect your future.

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    I -1'ed because the last few lines are very moralized and basically a scolding. I'm sort of concerned the entire answer is just starting with "drugs are objectively bad" and working out what everyone's role is from there.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 5:53
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    @djechlin If the OP is as concerned about getting caught as they obviously are, then they already know that it's the wrong thing to do for their career. They are asking about how to not get caught out, not if it's right or wrong. I'm answering exactly that question - if you want to be sure that you won't be caught using them, don't use them.
    – Jane S
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 5:57
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 10:26

Does it send the wrong impression if I ask if I will be drug tested?

Yes, it would be a concern inasmuch as there is an implication that you are worried about a drug test because you are a drug user. Some industries and companies take this much more seriously than others.

Having said that, a background check does not usually entail a drug test, it might cover criminal history. But a drug test is usually mentioned separately and specifically unless you are in an industry or company where it is a mandatory requirement.


My next research steps for your question would be -

  1. Just do a Google search on "company X drug testing," then try similar companies.
  2. Research laws in your state regarding which methods are used.
  3. Research how long the drug is detectable in a test. You have 2 months so I'm only guessing that most substances will not be in urine or blood in that time.

Emailing the hiring manager would be just saying "I have at least one illegal substance in my body currently." That sounds like the opposite of what you want to happen.

Beyond that, you would have to make a personal decision regarding how much risk you are willing to take with your career and with the law given whatever substance you are using. If you are using drugs whose use is illegal, and if for compliance or other reasons your company has decided to test, then you will certainly face an uphill battle in evading the test.

If you want to quit the drug before you start the job but cannot quit it, then you have an addiction problem and that is very likely the single largest problem in your life right now. Get help immediately.

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    I agree generally, but saying "recreational drug use is generally illegal" is to ignore many commonly used drugs that are acceptable (and sometimes encouraged) in many places like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. In fact my employer provides free caffeinated beverages and alcohol to be enjoyed at the employee's discretion, and I know coworkers who smoke tobacco on breaks during work hours. I actually can't think of a single person I know who doesn't partake in at least one of these on occasion.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 21:18
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    @KevinWells OK, updated that.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 21:34
  • @JohnR.Strohm thanks. I sort of felt it was more important to treat the OP as an adult with agency until proven otherwise, but it felt natural enough to be complete and touch that situation. (And like I'm no idiot, some substances the OP could be referring to are very problematic).
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 5:28

I think, like others have said, that directly asking this question would definitely raise red flags with your potential employer.

In the past, when I was unsure about the testing policies of a potential employer, I would ask something similar to the following:

I may be out of town for a day or two in the near future; are there any orientations or other on-boarding activities that I will need to attend in-person before the start date?

Not only will this indirectly let you know if there will be a drug test, it can also have the added benefit that you come across as being thorough and organized.

  • now that's an answer worthy of an upvote! Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 10:44

Solution: have a friend call the company as a 'new customer recruiter' for 'Swift Decisions Substance Testing and Drug Abuse Counselling' and ask whoever answers "If we wanted to submit a competitive bid for the service, when does the contract with your current drug testing provider come up for renewal?" and/or "What company provides pre-employment drug testing services now?" there's a very good chance that whatever the reply is it will put an end to your nervous anticipation. Problem solved.

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    Creative, but hogwash. If you can do this and get as successful result for a large company, please post how it went.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 6:38
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    In theory an interesting solution, in reality you don't even get past the first service desk. Preventing that employees get annoying marketing calls is basically their duty. Not to mention that you never ever get people to talk about existing contracts and who they have contracts with in the first place with a stranger. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 10:29
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    In my company, we'd drop your call because we don't accept unsolicited marketing calls, period. I suspect most large companies are the same.
    – Magisch
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 13:02
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    Or pose as a prospective client, then ask if their employees are drug tested.
    – paj28
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 13:24
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    Honestly it isn't! Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 17:37

It will make a bad impression. Whether that's the wrong impression or the right impression I obviously cannot know.

There is really no upside to asking this. Either there is no drug test. Or there is a drug test, then you'll find out early enough.

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    can you expound on "early enough" actually? that matters and the OP doesn't sound sure whether they find out until day of.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 2:07
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    @djechlin Maybe s/he meant "soon enough", which has quite a different idiomatic meaning. Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 2:56

Well, if you tell them that your grand-mother is polish and regularly bakes Makowiec for the whole office, which resulted in a lot of positive drug-tests in your last workplace, then you may get away with it. But then you need to bring Makowiec to work on a regular basis. Otherwise do not do it!

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    Dude, if somebody wants to hide the kind of habit that poppyseed products (like Makowiec) can mistakenly show positives on, there is a much bigger issue at hand. One that very likely could not be justified by "controlled recreational use that should be none of an employer's business. let's force it to be none of their business.". Because that kind of stuff will force itself to be their business sooner or later. Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 13:07
  • It still doesn't change the fact that the particular company might consider eating cakes highly immoral, because random (just like with randomly chosen psychoactive substances described as 'drugs').
    – user50700
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 10:19

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