Random drug testing at workplaces could help reduce Ireland's use of cocaine and other drugs.
Former Minister of State Conor Lenihan was speaking as cocaine is now the most common drug that people seek treatment for.
Mr Lenihan told Newstalk Breakfast drug testing already happens in some professions.
"It already works in the Defence Forces," he said.
"The Irish Defence Forces have a random system of drug testing for their personnel.
"It has to be random in the sense that there is no requirement for a warrant or an application by the Irish Defence authorities.
"The Garda Síochána are, in the next few months, rolling out pretty much the same system of random testing.
"It's regarded as important for both of those entities and for the people who run it, and for the safety of the public."
'Nurses and doctors'
Mr Lenihan said he would like to see the testing expanded to healthcare.
"I believe that we should consider this for people working in the healthcare sector and industry, particularly nurses and doctors," he said.
"They do sensitive and very difficult and arduous work in our country's hospitals.
"If any of those were to be occasionally or generally using drugs it would be very dangerous to patient health and to the public interest generally."
'The cost of addiction'
Mr Lenihan said what people do in their free time does affect their employer.
"The cost of drug addiction is extraordinary high for society," he said.
"80% of crime is caused out of this whole area of drug use and drug addiction.
"We also see the affect on families and on individuals, and of course in the numbers of people who present - at very young ages nowadays - in hospitals with deep psychiatric difficulties related to the use of these so-called recreational drugs.
"If we're going to go down the road, as I think we are going to go in the next few years, of legalising some types of drugs and decriminalising the actual possession of certain types of drugs, then the corresponding pressure also has to be to actually reduce drug consumption."
'Reduction of usage'
Mr Lenihan said he believes such testing would act as a disincentive.
"If it's good enough for the Garda Síochána, I suggest it should be good enough for other types and categories of employment," he said.
"I think the issue is so serious, in terms of the societal problem we now have in this area, that it is required.
"It does act as a disincentive; people who value their jobs will not be encouraging the drug cartels or the drug criminals in terms of further importation.
"I think it will have an effect, or could have an effect, in the reduction of usage," he added.
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