Drug Testing and Rehab Programs

When a patient has made the decision to enter drug rehabilitation, that’s a decision that should be applauded. Making the decision to get clean is one of the best things a drug addict or alcoholic can do, not just for their own sake, but for that of their family and friends. Meaningful recovery requires a healthy relationship between the patient and his or her counselor or therapist, and typically, clinicians invest a lot of time in fostering a good relationship that’s devoid of conflict or mistrust. So, how does drug testing in rehab affect recovery?

Sobriety is the Goal

It goes without saying that the goal of any rehab program or outpatient treatment program is to ensure that clients remain sober. This isn’t just because of concerns for the patient’s health; it’s also because as a business, in order to stay operational, a rehab facility has to have a good success rate. For that reason, rehab facilities will frequently employ on-site drug test technicians to monitor their patients.

Is this intrusive? Probably not in the context of rehab. After all, during the intake process, a patient’s belongings and person are screened, and in residential rehab, staff screen incoming packages and letters to make sure that no illicit substances end up in the facility. Drug testing is just another means of ensuring that patients remain sober, especially once they reach the outpatient phase of treatment, where they will inevitably end up being exposed to alcohol, drugs, and the triggers that could cause them to use.

A Positive Tool

Drug and alcohol testing in rehab helps to prevent relapsing, and also encourages the patient to remain honest. Because the tests don’t lie, the addict or alcoholic has no way of convincing employers, family, friends, or rehab staff that he or she is sticking with the program. Testing also means that people who have relapsed can be immediately identified and get the help that they need. Essentially, testing makes people accountable, ensures that the rehab facility can remain free of illicit substances, and helps the facility to measure its effectiveness.

It’s Not a Punishment

Drug testing isn’t punitive, although some rehab centers do outline the consequences that will result from a positive drug or alcohol test. It is possible, for instance, that under the terms of his or her employment, the patient has agreed to permit the rehab center to notify his or her employer of the results of any drug tests that may be performed. If the patient’s addiction has resulted in legal action, the court may also be notified of any results. Another consequence could be that the patient is no longer welcome at the rehab facility, although this seldom happens.

Consequences should, of course, be drafted in accordance with National Institute of Drug Abuse Guidelines and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, requiring that patients must be monitored while providing urine samples, in order to further reduce the already slim possibility of false negatives.



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