Administering Effective Drug Testing

A common procedure in laboratories is drug testing. This is conducted to measure levels of substance or drugs in the body. Persons using or misusing prescription or illegal drugs can be identified with this procedure. A drug test may be required to find out if someone is experiencing drug dependency. Another reason may be to assist in medical instances and also to help employees make hiring decisions. Parents also use drug testing for their children for various reasons.

Drug testing is commonly administered in secondary schools where teenagers are susceptible to peer pressure and drug use. Random tests may be conducted on any particular student or if students are suspected of using illegal substances. The main concern is that the drugs are likely to affect how the students learn. Another reason for drug testing in schools is to organize intervention strategies for persons who use the drug but do not desire to continue.

The reason to conduct standard drug testing varies and is dependent on factors such as requirements of the federal body, expectations, the company responsible for testing and also the expense involved. The guidelines of the federal government stipulate that a testing system should be set up for any company that employs drivers with commercial class licenses. In addition to other requirements, drug testing should look for specific drug categories, namely Phencyclidine (PCP), Amphetamines, Opiates (morphine, opium, codeine, heroin), cocaine (benzoylecgonine, cocaine, crack) and Cannabinoids (hash, marijuana). Drug testing is mostly administered using samples of urine, sweat, saliva, hair, and blood.

Urine Test
The urine test is most commonly used in schools and this is mainly because it is the least intrusive and also least expensive. Although this test can be easily conducted at home, it will need verification from a laboratory if accurate results are required. The urine test can detect the use of the substance up to a week before and a longer expanse of time if the drug was being used regularly. The downside to using this test to find out the use of a particular drug is that the urine sample may not carry any trace of it if the person stopped using it a while prior to the test. In addition, the temperature of the urine sample has to be accurate to ensure integrity.

Sweat Test
This is also referred to as patch test. This intrusive drug testing procedure requires the individual to wear a patch on the body over a long period of time. This is not among the commonly used test. The sweat test is not considered as very reliable. This is because the presence of cannabis smoke or any other surface contamination is liable to result in a false outcome. Another reason why the sweat test is not considered reliable for detecting the prior use of a drug is that a positive result may occur because the drug use started during the time the patch was on the body.

Saliva Test
Saliva tests are relatively non-intrusive. These types of drug testing are becoming common. Like the urine test, this is an easy process but accuracy is not guaranteed outside of the laboratory. It can detect the use of drugs over a few days. Compared to other drug testing methods, the saliva test is able to identify more recent substance use. However, results of this test may not be reliable or acceptable for legitimate cases as they are dependent to a large extent on the product that is used.

Hair Test
This expensive type of drug testing is also a non-intrusive method. It can detect the use of drugs over a long period of time. The amount of hair required for this type of drug test is about the size of a pen or pencil with a length of 1.5 inches. The hair test is highly likely to detect drugs in the body even if abstinence occurs for a brief period. It also can determine if the person used the drug and has discontinued use.

Blood Test
When compared to the other methods of drug testing, the blood test is the most intrusive and expensive, but most accurate. It is not used as commonly as the other tests. This may be due to the cost as well as the level of intrusion.