Drug testing or a drug test is a routine laboratory procedure that helps detect the presence of drugs or measures the drug quantity in the body. A drug test can identify people who use or have recently used prescription or illegal drugs. The information gathered can be used for identifying a drug dependency scenario, helping diagnosticians handle medical cases or assisting parents or employers in screening kids or employees. There are several drug test methods, with each having their own pros and cons.

Urine Testing

A urine test is a common drug-testing method that looks for drug (metabolites) presence in the urine. This method is typically used to screen for people who use illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), benzodiazepines or methadone. The test is non-invasive and straightforward, but it has its fair share of negatives.

While urine tests could detect drug presence in the urine, laboratory reports do not state drug presence levels and may not spot drugs a week post usage. Also, the urine test could show false positives for certain drugs, as it cannot differentiate between opiate drug use or opioids naturally occurring in the body. An opiate-positive test result needs further testing to confirm usage of the drug.

Hair Testing

Another minimally invasive test type is the hair drug test. Hair testing is usually used to detect illegal drug usages, such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, PCP, and amphetamines. Every hair follicle comprises a blood vessel source, which nourishes the hair growth cells. When a person is subject to drugs, drug metabolites diffuse into the follicle from the blood, which means traces of the drug could be found in the hair. As hair growth is a long-term, ongoing process, hair testing turns out quite handy in detecting drug usage even when quite a bit of time has passed since the drug exposure.

Blood Testing

Another common drug test type is the blood test. Compared to the hair and urine test, blood tests are more invasive. However, the test is worth the effort since it offers more information relating to drug use. Blood tests are commonly used within medical settings, with the tests normally carried out to examine illegal drugs’ presence or check patients’ medication levels.

Blood testing isn’t routinely used to examine for illegal drugs presence, as several test subjects could resist the testing. The test is employed as part of a legal investigation – for instance, testing arrested drivers for alcohol levels.

Oral Testing

Oral drug testing entails using an individual’s saliva, instead of blood or urine, for illegal drugs screening. A benefit to this technique is that the collection process is more convenient and much easier, and the test results cannot be easily altered or tampered with. However, a major disadvantage is that the test works only when drug usage has been in the last two days or 48 hours.

Usually, the test is professionally screened and carried out by a technician. The sample collector, which usually looks like a toothbrush without the bristles, is positioned between the gum and cheek. After a couple of minutes, the pad gets filled with saliva and could be removed thereafter.

Since the oral drug exam doesn’t usually detect historic drug usage like a hair test and has its scope limited to 48 hours, the testing method is usually used when the suspicion about drug use is recent. In several areas, workplace accidents give rise to recent drug use suspicions. An oral drug test is likely to be requested in such a scenario. Employers that perform random examinations could also opt to perform an oral drug test for convenience sake.