Drug abusers usually do not see themselves as such, and are not apt to halt destructive behavior or volunteer to undergo treatment.
The legality of the policy has been challenged by employees on grounds of personal privacy.
Such a suit is pending in San Francisco Superior Court against the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, which, to promote safety on its rails, tested almost 500 employees without notice.
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Between five million and six million people are regular cocaine users. Try as it might, the United States has simply been unable to stop or significantly hinder the traffic in drugs.'' Law enforcement has been tested to its utmost,'' said Judge Irving R.
Kaufman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who was chairman of the crime commission.
But last month the President's Commission on Organized Crime recommended that most working Americans be tested for drug use.
Some members of Congress, civil liberties groups and employee organizations, already on record in oppositon to random drug testing programs, saw the recommendation as a new cause for alarm.
In addition, they say, drug use poses the threat of lawsuits by injured co-workers and customers.
Interests Must Be Weighed'' There are very legitimate privacy and civil liberty interests at stake in drug testing programs,'' said Mark de Bernardo, head of the labor law department of the United States Chamber of Commerce, ''but they must be balanced against the rights and responsibilities of employers, co-workers and the public.'' Proponents of drug-testing programs also say that substance abuse is a progressive disease: When left alone it seldom gets better or goes away, but tends to get worse.