How Did Drug and Alcohol Testing Originate?

Drugs and alcohol have been used and abused for thousands of years. However, testing for drugs and alcohol, especially as a factor in employment, is a fairly recent occurrence. Several nations prohibit mandatory drug testing as part of the individual’s right to privacy, but others legally require it if public safety is involved, which includes the mining and transportation industries. The United States began implementing drug and alcohol testing in their military branches, and later in safety-sensitive industries, after a single plane crash into the naval carrier, the USS Nimitz, in 1981. [1]

However, in the past, psychoactive drugs were first allowed to be tested for by drivers if law enforcement deemed that the individual might be under the influence. This was backed by historical reasoning based upon laws set down in medieval England, concerning treatment of the king’s forest and the king’s highway. [2]

Alcohol has been both revered and condemned throughout history, depending upon the culture and society. Societies rich in religious and sacrificial traditions, such as England, were much more likely to condemn public drunkenness as an example of being out of control and irreverent. Today, Germany employs a young drinking age, but public drunkenness is rare, due to prevalent societal condemnation. Societies which indulged in freestyle practices of romanticism and uninhibited artistic expression, such as the ancient Greek and Babylonian empires, were much more likely to endorse and even promote public drunkenness. Judgment of alcoholism in it’s ugliest forms seems to be directly correlated with the specific culture’s opinion of luxury. While fine tapestries and gold and jewels are universal, the Greeks, Babylonians and Mayans shared a love of freestyle luxury, where courts designed and created original artwork and tradition, based upon the whims of the ruling authorities. England and Russia have indulged in rich, authoritative traditions which must be met and exactly executed if you are a member of the ruling class. Oppressive? Yes. Indiscreet? No. [3]

Today, personal lives and business relationships are much closer together, people live in crowded, compact spaces, and communication is instantaneous…even from one side of the world to the other. Manners, etiquette, social decorum, right to personal space and privacy, and public interaction must all be respected. Even within job duties, mismanagement of equipment may not simply harm the individual at fault, but innocent bystanders as well. Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace has become necessary in order to function as a society, and in order to succeed as a person. It may be the same old game of supply and demand, but the rules of interaction have evolved. Contact CMM Technology today for your drug and alcohol testing equipment: +618-9204-2500.

1. National Treasury Employees Union v. von Raab. 86-1879, US Supreme Court, 1989.

2. Giannini, AJ; Giannini, JN (2000). “Historical, ethical, and legal issues in mandatory drug testing.”. JOna’s healthcare law, ethics and regulation 2 (4): 105–7, 111. doi:10.1097/00128488-200002040-00002.

3. Potter, James V. (14 January 2008). Substances of Abuse. 2. AFS Publishing Co. pp. 1–13.

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