Friday, 19 July 2013

Why Paula Bennett has it so wrong in drug testing beneficiaries.

I am a drug and alcohol counsellor who has worked at Odyssey House and met people your grandmother warned you about. As part of my training I was regularly required to collect urine from people on the drug treatment programmes. What did piss testing teach me?

Quite a few things but nothing about testing urine, reducing drug use.
In fact instead of drug testing beneficiaries we should be breath testing workers for alcohol.
Drug testing people is collecting health related information. This should be done in a medical centre and I would not trust WINZ to manage that information. Only people who have jobs that require a certain level of safety clearance like pilots or drivers need to be drug tested. 40 % of jobs listed at WINZ require pre-employment drug testing? I wonder why ?

I find it interesting and a little disturbing that this is happening in New Zealand when both America and Australia are moving in the direction of legalising cannabis as they have found it to be far superior and safer than alcohol for a population. why are we behaving so conservatively towards cannabis when we are reckless with alcohol. One in 20 deaths in New Zealand is alcohol related. No one has ever died of cannabis!

The thing with drug testing that many people don't know is that all drugs we  may consume legal or illegal pass through the body in 24 hours. So in effect any substance consumed before Sunday morning is most likely to be undetectable if drug testing occurs at work on a Monday or a Tuesday. In fact the only substance that remains in the body for longer is cannabis. Unlike alcohol and other drugs/chemicals cannabis binds to the fat molecules in our body and hangs around. So if your workmates have partied all weekend taking all number of substances and you smoked a joint at a friends house two weeks ago. Guess who the net traps? The cannabis smoker everytime. In fact there are instances of cannabis remaining in your blood stream for up to a month .
Is this fair?
And why the concern with illegal drugs when the only drug detected when drug testing is used in this fashion is cannabis. The other illegal drugs have long gone so not a lot to be gained.
I feel this sort of testing should not be abused but should remain used in the case of workplace accidents. What is needed is a reliable test on the spot. For those in work.

Drug testing beneficiaries is invasive discrimination.
Show me the jobs Paula!
Ok so no jobs , show me some training or meaningful work experiences such as courses and apprenticeships to get our young people up-skilled and into work.

How about random alcohol and drug testing in Parliament. who parties with celebs in the weekends?
who drinks in their office or comes to work hungover?
Surely if you want to pry into the lives of job seekers we should extend the same regime to those in Parliament.
No one likes being bullied and given that the job market seems to be shrinking every week opportunities for job seekers are few and far between. I think a job creation scheme is what is needed not more power to the great clobbering machine.
And refuse to take any drug test or share any personal information till well after the first and second interview.

I believe this time the Human Rights Commission may have some advice for Paula about to how to treat people with respect. As for the her statement that the welfare reforms are going to take some people out of their comfort zones, pretty farcical considering there is not much comfort in living on $258 .00 per week.

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