The Common Types of Drug Testing Options Used - ARCpoint Labs of Sugarland
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Drug Tests provide valuable information in various settings. These tests can be used to detect chemicals in the blood, hair, saliva, and urine that indicate past substance use. Drug testing is often used by employers, athletic teams, parole officers and law enforcement, drug treatment facilities, government programs, and even concerned parents and family members. If you fall into one of those categories, here’s what you need to know about the different types of drug tests.

Urine Drug Test

The most common type of screening is a urine drug test, which detects the presence of metabolites in the urine that indicate past drug use. For example, cannabis consumption is indicated by THC-COOH, a metabolite that can be present in urine for 14 days after use. Urine screening can be used to detect amphetamines and methamphetamines, opioids and other narcotics, benzodiazepines such as Xanax, methadone, marijuana, barbiturates, PCP, and cocaine. Some types of urine tests can also detect alcohol consumption.

With this type of test, the person is given a testing cup and asked to leave his or her personal belongings behind. The testing room may be monitored by a nurse or medical assistant of the same gender. The test subject must urinate into the cup and give it to the technician, who seals it for delivery to the lab for testing.

Saliva Drug Test

A saliva drug test uses a small amount of the person’s saliva for the presence of illicit drugs. This easy, low-cost option is often preferred by home users. Saliva tests can effectively indicate the presence of barbiturates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, alcohol, benzodiazepines, PCP, ecstasy, marijuana, opiates, and cocaine. This type of test can only detect substances such as nicotine and marijuana for a few hours after use, though other drugs like alcohol and methamphetamine can be detected for a day or longer with an oral fluid drug test.

Blood Drug Test

Although drawing blood and sending it to a lab is the most accurate type of drug screening, most organizations and companies prefer to use a less invasive method. Blood drug test detects the presence of drugs that have been used recently and remain in the bloodstream. These tests are most appropriate in legal settings where time is of the essence. With a blood test, a medical assistant or nurse inserts a small tube into the person’s vein and draws blood through a syringe into a test tube. These tubes are labeled and delivered to a secure lab for testing.

Hair Follicle Drug Test

When a drug test is needed for research or scientific purposes, hair follicle drug test provides a wealth of data that includes frequency and patterns of drug use. With a hair test, the lab screens for drug metabolites that enter the hair follicle after use. Chemical hair processing like dyes, relaxers, and other treatments do not affect the accuracy of hair screening. However, this test does carry a risk of contamination from substances like smoke or powder. For these reasons, retesting may be required to rule out a false positive.

Hair screening looks for drug use within the 90-day period before the test. To conduct this screening, the technician removes about 120 hairs from the test subject’s head painlessly using scissors and sends the sample out for testing. Negative test results come back within 24 hours, while positive samples are confirmed with a second follow-up test that rules out false positives and takes about 72 hours.

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