There is a lot of debate about which type of drug test gets the best possible results to determine an individual’s use of drugs. While the first kind of drug testing was done through testing of urine samples, blood tests, saliva testing and hair follicle testing are also being performed for drug testing nowadays. The question is, which is the best drug testing specimen?
We are going to look at the different types of drug tests and weigh their pros and cons in order to determine which specimen produces the most accurate results. The desirability of these drug test specimens and their effectiveness, based on the need, can be determined by a number of factors. Each of the specimens presents their own set of strengths and weaknesses in testing programs. Here is a better look at them.
Blood testing used to be a very common method for drug testing. It is the most invasive drug testing method and happens to be quite an accurate measure to identify drugs in an individual. It involves taking a sample of an individual’s blood and then running a test to determine the contents found in it. Any drug metabolites present in a person’s system can be detected directly by this method.
- Blood testing is an accurate way to detect drugs in an individual’s system.
- It also accurately indicates the concentration of drugs in the system.
- Blood testing is quite expensive to conduct.
- The invasive nature of collecting the samples for drug testing makes it the least desirable method.
- The window period for a blood test is quite short. It cannot detect drug metabolites beyond a 12-hour timeframe.
- Blood is not a stable specimen. This means that it requires a lot more care to transport and store the specimen, adding to the costs that are already high when using this method.
Saliva drug test kits is one of the latest drug testing options. It involves the testing of oral fluids collected from a person. There is no prospect of tampering with the sample because the collection is typically done by a professional conducting the test using a swab. The method of collecting samples for a saliva drug test kit is convenient but also mildly invasive.
- It provides an accurate measure of drug use in a person.
- Difficult method to tamper with.
- It is able to accurately detect the presence of several illicit substances.
- It is very easy to collect the sample.
- It is unable to measure the frequency of drug use.
- There are drugs which can no longer be detected by saliva drug test kits after three days of last use. It only has a detection window of 48 hours.
- Drugs and metabolites do not stay in the saliva as long as they do in other specimens collected from the human body.
- It is not effective when it comes to detecting THC.
Hair Follicle Testing
Hair follicle testing has become the most fearful drug testing method in recent times. The reason for that is the long detection window. It might be surprising that hair can be used for detecting drug use but it makes sense. When a person consumes drugs, the excess metabolites travel in the bloodstream throughout their body.
Some of those metabolites get deposited at the root of the hair where they become part of the inner structure of hair as it grows from that point onwards. However, this testing method has some issues, such as the fact that it is a time-consuming process and the detection window might be too long to be considered fair. This is because only recent drug use is typically considered to be a cause for concern, especially when workplace drug testing and pre-employment drug testing are concerned.
- Hair follicle testing has a long detection window of up to 90 days.
- It is able to detect long-term patterns of chronic substance abuse in an individual.
- A higher number of positive results can be received using hair follicle testing as compared to other specimens for drug testing.
- It is difficult to cheat or tamper with hair follicle testing.
- Samples of hair offer greater stability because they do not deteriorate.
- It is able to measure chronic use of drugs.
- It is a relatively expensive drug testing method.
- It is more often than not, unable to detect sporadic use of drugs like marijuana.
- The Department of Transportation’s federal testing regulations have not given their approval for the use of hair follicle testing to detect drug use.
- It involves a much longer turnaround time as compared to other methods.
- The detection window makes it inadequate for use in drug testing post accidents.
- Takes approximately 5 to 10 days to detect the use of drugs.
- Challenging to conduct if the prospective subject of drug test is bald or does not have hair that is at least 1.5 inches long.
Urine Drug Testing
Of all the methods of drug testing, urine tests have always been the most popular method. It is able to detect the use of drugs in a person for a long period of time. It is one of the least invasive methods of drug testing. It is the longest standing method for drug testing, is affordable and deemed as the most effective method for detecting the use of drugs in a person. What started off in the 80s and 90s, urine testing is now becoming the most popular form of drug testing there is.
- It is the most economical method to detect the use of drugs in an individual.
- Lab-based urine drug tests have a turnaround time of one to five days, which is shorter than what most other specimens have to offer.
- It is able to detect a large variety of drugs being used by an individual. The versatility of the test enables it to be used for any number of applications from federal testing to pre-employment drug testing to even drug testing in rehabilitation facilities.
- There are hundreds of complex drug panel configurations available for it.
- The timeframe to detect drugs can be anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks, depending on the kind of drugs and the frequency of use of the drugs.
- It is the most common drug testing method, which is also permitted for use by the Department of Transportation’s ‘testing.
- Instant drug tests that are available now can provide proper readable results of urine drug tests, without having to wait for days on end to get the results.
- Collecting urine samples is easy where an individual has to urinate into a specimen cup. As it’s not invasive, it can be used in a number of situations that require drug testing.
- The sample is stable, which means that it does not deteriorate as easily as blood samples do.
- The urine collection process is usually private which can make it possible for a person to tamper with the sample before submission. Supervision is required when there is reasonable suspicion or if the situation calls for it.
- It cannot detect the severity of impairment caused by drug use or the frequency of drug use.
- Handling and shipping of the specimen to lab can be difficult, considering the biological hazard nature of the specimen.
When all things are considered, urine testing stands out as the best possible option to consider when it comes to conducting drug tests. Urine tests provide a reasonable window of detection based on the drug type and frequency of use. Collecting samples for urine drug tests is not difficult. It is a non-invasive, affordable method for detecting drug use.
It has been the longest used drug testing method, which means that scientists have had a lot of time to refine the processes involved with making the process of urine drug tests more accurate and effective. Innovations like the instant urine drug test cups like the ones available at Ovus Medical make the matter of detecting drug use not only cheap but also faster and more reliable, delivering results in less than 5 minutes.