Drug tests have become the norm in many circumstances, including recruitment by companies, testing for sports championships and recruitment into the police and military. There are many reasons why drugs tests are common nowadays, but the main concern has been the increasing number of people who engage in illegal drugs and the overall effect on the economy and social-well being of the society. Companies and other organizations use different drug tests to determine whether the subjects are or have been on drugs prior to the test and whether the extent of the effect is enormous.
Substance abuse can show itself in a number of mediums, including the urine, blood, the hair and the saliva. The efficiency and effectiveness of the drug test have informed the public about the safety and risk concerns of this menace. Different drugs are abused, hence different drug tests are used. The types of tests vary depending on the invasive nature of the drugs, availability and the cost of the test. Here are some of the common types of drug tests used:
Urine Drug Test: It is most commonly used a type of test for most drugs. However, there are many other tests that can be carried out to determine the presence of drugs in the body system. Some of the tests may include taking hair, saliva or sweat to perform the tests.
Immunoassays: Immunoassays are the tests used to screen samples. Where the drugs or their structural metabolites are present, the samples may undergo further testing such as Gas Chromatography and Mass spectrometry. The former test is based on the correlation between the reaction of antigen and antibodies. The antibodies are selected to bind to the drugs under question or their metabolites. An enzyme is then used to detect the binding. In other cases, radioisotopes and fluorescent compounds may be used to detect the binding. Such methods may include Enzyme Multiple Immunoassay (EMIT), Radio Immunoassay and Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassay.
DOT Testing: DOT is an acronym for the Department of Transportation. People leaving in the US and who are applying to work there are expected to take this test prior to recruitment. This test is considered personally invasive. Where urine is not to be used, other methods of drug testing may be used.
Hair Testing: Psychomedics Corporation is the pioneer of this type of testing. The method relies on the principle that when drugs are ingested into the body, the travel to the blood vessels in the scalp and later are filtered into the hair. The drug metabolites remain in the hair follicles for a longer period to allow for future testing. Strands of hair are taken and dissolved in special solvents after which the analysis is performed on the liquified samples using an appropriate test such as Mass Spectrometry or Gas Chromatography. The procedure means that this type of test is highly sensitive and costly, hence not commonly used. However, this test requires that a different (confirmation) test is performed using urine. This approach to testing is common in child custody cases as opposed to pure drug testing.
Sweat Test: Also know as Perspiration testing, sweat tests are also used to test the presence of drug substances in the body. The sweat is taken as a sample by allowing the subject to wear a patch for a period of time. The patch is designed to detect a presence of any drugs or their close structures contained in the sweat.
Saliva Testing: This is one of latest ways of detecting drugs or their metabolites in the body through the saliva. In a study conducted on cannabinoids, this test was able to detect the drug 4-10 hours after the subject had smoked cigarette. This test is only appropriate when testing or detecting current intoxication as opposed to detecting if the subject long after the subject quit drugs. This is the reason it is common in testing on roads.
Blood Testing: While it is an expensive and intrusive test, blood testing is considered the most accurate type of test. In fact, it is the test that will be taken to confirm the presence of drugs after another test has shown a likelihood of drug presence. Blood testing is popular in accident cases when one intent to take a health or life assurance. This test can detect cannabinoids up to six hours after the subject takes the drug. However, the concentration falls rapidly afterward, making it difficult to detect cannabinoids.