Drug Testing in Drug Rehabs
One of the most important aspects of any drug rehab or alcohol rehab program is the relationship between patient and clinician. When a patient does not connect with or trust his or her therapist, meaningful recovery will likely not occur. Addiction professionals invest much time and effort fostering the therapeutic relationship and actively seek to minimize the potential for mistrust or conflict.
On the other hand, the addiction treatment program, as a business, has a vested interest in ensuring that clients stay clean and sober while at the facility. Not only does active relapse pose immediate safety concerns and inhibit recovery for the patient and those around him, but it can also garner the rehab center unwanted attention in the media or recovery community.
Many addiction treatment facilities take an active role in ensuring that patients do not have ready access to addictive substances during their stay. For instance, a client’s person and belongings can be screened during the intake process; items as seemingly innocuous as mouthwash may be prohibited given their alcohol content. Further, treatment staff may be tasked with screening income mail and packages to prevent contraband from entering the facility.
However, some facilities go beyond monitoring belongings and packages. Many drug rehab centers make routine and random drug testing a mandatory part of the program. For outpatient drug rehabs, the need to ensure that participants stay clean and sober is much greater than in traditional inpatient programs as patients are both exposed to triggers and given access to drugs and alcohol in the outside world.
When a drug-testing scheme is implemented as part of a drug rehab or alcohol rehab, clinical professionals must take steps to ensure that patients see the procedure as a positive tool on their recovery journey and not a violation of the trust engendered in the therapeutic relationship.
In many ways, drug testing is a positive aspect of treatment as it aids in relapse prevention and encourages honesty both within the patient himself and with his outside interactions. Because tests do not normally lie, addicts who have relapsed are unable to manipulate staff, employers, friends and family into believing that they are staying sober. When a recovering addict has relapsed, immediate intervention is necessary in order to minimize the damage. Drug tests help ensure that patients will get the help they need, as soon as they need it.
Patients should be advised that drug testing is a positive tool that enhances accountability, keeps the facility drug-free, and ultimately helps them achieve their sobriety goals. Because abstinence from drugs and alcohol is a goal of many individual drug and alcohol treatment plans, drug tests help measure client progress toward that goal.
Although programs typically do not punish patients for positive tests, some programs require patient and therapist to draft a list of pre-determined consequences in the even of a positive drug test; depending on the treatment plan, a positive test may cause a patient to be negatively affected at home or work. In other situations, reporting may be required by an employer or court. For instance, if, in order to keep his job, a patient has agreed to allow the facility to notify his employer if he tests positive for drug or alcohol use, a positive test reported to the employer may cause him to lose his job.
Although drug testing can be a beneficial recovery tool, in order to safeguard a patient’s privacy and individual rights under the law, any consequence for negative drug or alcohol tests should be drafted under the guidelines provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, which require patients to be monitored when giving urine samples to prevent false negatives.