Beating the Man: Detoxing as Subterfuge

Kenneth D. Tunnell, Eastern Kentucky University

As drug testing pervades employment and pre-employment application processes, a detox industry, manufacturing products and devices that aid individuals in passing the tests, has emerged. These products are designed to produce false negative urinalysis results. This case study, based on interviews with manufacturers, retailers, consumers and employers, focuses on this industry and the socially constructed mean ings product use. Manufacturers, who cautiously consent to interviews, rationalize their production of these goods by claiming they are designed to rid one's body of impurities and toxins. Retailers, who are more candid, know full well who buys the products and why, and occasionally offer advice to customers. Consumers apparently are casual marijuana users who do not use drugs during working hours yet resist, through quiet subterfuge, what they define as employers' intrusions into their private and public drug use and abuse. This paper describes the multiple meanings of drug use and containment from these various players and the political economy of this multi-million dollar industry's success.

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Updated 05/20/2006