Everything you wanted to know about on-site drug testing
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Everything You Wanted to Know About On-site Drug Testing


Drug testing is a collection of processes to determine the presence or absence of drugs in the body and/or whether certain drugs have been used in the recent past.

Drug testing or Drug Screening Devices are used in a number of situations including Pre-employment drug screening, random drug screening in the workplace, medical drug of abuse screening, forensic evidence collection, and to verify compliance with chemical dependency treatment

A number of factors influence the particular test that is used in any given situation.  The length of time a drug remains in the body (its half-life) and the drugs primary route of excretion both help determine which body fluid is tested.

In addition, some drugs that are biotransformed into other metabolites are best identified by testing for those metabolites instead of for the drug itself.

Reliability of Drug Tests
Drug tests are judged by their sensitivity and specificity. A on-site drug test is said to have good sensitivity if it detects the presence of drugs.  A test has good specificity if it gives few false positive results, in other words if negative specimens are identified as such.
Predictive value is another term that is sometimes used to describe drug tests.  It refers to the number of test results that accurately identify the presence or absence of drugs.

Substances Tested in On-site Drug Tests
Drugs and their metabolites can be found in practically all body fluids, and drugs are also identified in all tissues of the body.  For this reason, drug testing is commonly performed on urine, blood, saliva, sweat, hair, and breath.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each.  

Urine Drug Tests
Urine drug tests  are  preferred over blood when testing for the presence of drugs, for a number of reasons.  Because the kidneys filter drugs from the body, drugs tend to be concentrated in the urine and to remain there longer than in blood, for about one to three days. It is also less invasive and easier to perform in off-site or non-clinical locations.

Blood Drug Tests
Blood is commonly tested after accidents and overdoses to test for drugs and alcohol, however its uses are limited by the fact that many drugs are eliminated from the body within twelve hours. Drug levels are commonly used throughout treatment of poisonings as a way to measure the effectiveness of methods used to speed elimination of the drug(s) from the body.  Some physicians prefer testing blood over testing urine because they believe blood levels more accurately reflect recent drug use. 

Saliva Drug Tests
Smaller amounts of drugs are present in saliva than in blood and urine, and for shorter durations of time, but saliva collection is noninvasive and experts believe saliva samples are less vulnerable to tampering. Insurance companies commonly use saliva testing to identify evidence of nicotine use, cocaine and other drug use.

Hair Drug Tests
Hair testing has been used in pre-employment testing, testing in the workplace (random and periodic), testing to determine severity of drug use for referral to treatment, testing subjects suspected of trying to evade urine drug detection, and opiate-addicted persons claiming a poppy seed false positive on drug testing. Experts believe the ability of hair testing to identify long-term drug use may be especially useful in treating patients who are in denial about the extent of their drug use.

Breath Alcohol Tests
Breath testing is currently used to detect alcohol since it is volatilized in the lungs.

Sweat Drug Tests
Sweat testing involves the application of an absorbent patch that placed on the skin to collect sweat, which is then analyzed for the presence of drugs. 




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