The Differences Between the Different Types of Drug Testing Options

Drug tests can be administered in a variety of ways, depending on factors including the desired testing timeline, administration method, and testing parameters. Understanding the differences between common drug testing options will help you choose the right option to suit your needs, as well as be properly prepared for the testing process and results.

Depending on your personal or professional situation, one or more of these testing methods may be used to measure past or current drug use.

Hair Follicle and Nail Drug Tests

Hair follicle drug testing is ideal for getting a “big picture” snapshot of possible drug use because it can detect drugs for up to 12 months after use. Generally, a lab will remove about 40-50 strands total, which are used to examine the past 3 months (head hair) or 11-12 months (body hair) for drug use. Hair drug tests can be used to detect the use of more than 20 drugs including drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD, as well as alcohol.

Because fingernails are made up of keratin, just like hair, they also offer a similarly long-term picture of drug use. Specific drug biomarkers can be detected up to 6 months in fingernails and up to 12 months in toenails. The collection process is quick and easy, with a trained technician collecting nails with a nail clipper. Nail testing can also be utilized to test for over 20 common drugs of abuse.

It’s important to remember that it will take about 7 days for drugs to enter hair and nails, so hair and nail testing is not appropriate for testing drug and alcohol use within the past week.

Urine Drug Tests

Urine drug testing is the only method approved for federally-mandated testing, though its versatility and affordability make it a good option for a wide variety of personal, professional, and legal situations. This widely-used type of drug test effectively detects drug and alcohol use during the past 3-4 days (up to 30 days for marijuana), and tests are available for most drugs of abuse. Generally, the collection process will occur in a secure location, and in some cases can even be observed by clinic staff, to avoid any possible tampering of the sample.

Saliva Drug Tests

Saliva drug testing is a newer technology that has the advantage of only detecting drug usage that has occurred during the past 48 hours. This makes it a great choice for post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing when paired with a Breathalyzer (BAT) test for alcohol. Saliva testing can detect a range of commonly used drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, opiates, and PCP.

Drug Testing Options in Seattle, WA

Whether you’re an individual, employer, or legal representative, ARCpoint Labs of Seattle West has the most complete and modern collection of drug testing solutions to meet your needs. Our highly-trained team of technicians is available to consult with you to determine the best options for your testing needs and they have the expertise to provide quick, accurate, and confidential results for the full range of drug testing options.

For more information about drug testing or to schedule your drug test, contact ARCpoint Labs of Seattle West today.