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October 11, 2004 - The Daily Beacon (TN Edu)

Writer Speaks On Drug Testing

By Patrick Tucker, Staff Writer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The drug testing industry and with the detoxification industry have both grown into multi-billion dollar industries since the 1980s with 60 percent of all companies and 40 percent of the Fortune 500 testing for illegal drugs, a visiting lecturer said Friday.

Kenneth Tunnell of Eastern Kentucky University promoted his new book, "Pissing on Demand," at a University of Tennessee lecture.

"Companies became convinced that employees who used drugs were costing them billions in productivity losses and so they began to test," Tunnell said.

The Supreme Court's ruling that drug testing does not violate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments and Reagan's new "war on drugs," allowed workplace drug testing to become very common.

Testing grew from less than 10 percent of companies testing in 1983 to 67 percent testing in 1993. With this drug-testing explosion came a counter industry which seeks to market products for employees to resist these tests.

He likened these companies to hawkers of radar detectors and previously written term papers.

"I don't want to romanticize them, but they are a kind of resistance," Tunnell said.

With names like "Urine Luck" and the ever-popular "Ready Clean," they market mostly ingestable products that they claim removes all toxins from the body.

He said that they are mostly diuretics and can be effective if taken properly with lots of water.

Companies spend an awful lot of money to do drug testing but usually make it back and then some with all the tax breaks that the government gives them for doing the testing.

"It seems that companies are not that concerned with their employees' health but rather concerned with policing, that's why you typically don't see them testing for asbestos," which can be harmful to employees' health, Tunnell said.

Policing is exactly what it is, because the tests that the companies do only reveal drug use that has happened - not that it is happening.

"So what you have got," he said, "is a company knowing you smoked weed four weeks ago but not what you may or may not have done today," Tunnell said.

"Not to mention that when they test, they can actually test for many more drugs such as lithium, Prozac or Hydrocodone, which most people would not want their employers knowing they were taking."

Jason Giglio, manager at Calhoun's on the river, said that "testing is not done unless it's suspected, caught or an injury occurs that requires medical treatment."

"If we drug tested in this business we'd have no employees," he said.

The lecture was part of the UT Science Forum which holds a "brown-bag" lecture most Fridays. The next one will be Oct. 22 in Dining Room C in Thompson-Boling Arena.

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