NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield is proclaiming his innocence after being suspended for failing a drug test. My first thought is drug tests don’t lie, but people do. Yes, the tests can be misinterpreted, inconclusive, mishandled, administered wrong, or used inappropriately- but they don’t lie. People lie, and more often than not they lie about drug tests. Addicts lie routinely, it is the obvious symptom of what Stephen King calls the liar’s disease.
Anyone in the recovery, treatment, and advocacy community faces a paradox when it comes to drug testing. Having my own life experience and being exposed to alcoholics and addicts on a weekly basis I know that in most cases when a drug test that comes up dirty, regardless of the inevitable denials, it is just that… dirty. Yes, sometimes there has been a mistake but for the most part the mistake was usually a decision to smoke a joint or pop a xanax. So for an advocate supposedly supporting those suffering from addiction and substance abuse, how does one find a way to support the one in hundred falsely accused without enabling the crowd that will try to hide behind your shield?
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I’ve been asked before to speak up for a patient at the clinic claiming to have been done in by faulty testing, as a default position I recommend following the guidelines set for questioning a suspect test. Validating the law of addict averages, most never do or after an alternate sample is tested the protests and the protestor are strangely absent.
The only solution to maintaining a sane advocacy is to always encourage and support, but not past the point of reason or in an enabling manner. No system or drug testing is perfect, but we are better with them than without. One positive thing I can say about dug testing, especially when it comes to drug courts, is that just a drug test may send some people to jail- they are an irreplaceable tool for keeping many more safe and free of incarceration.
Still, I hope that for Mr. Mayfield this all works out and it was all just a big mistake… but I doubt it.