Crack Cocaine Testing

Those who are in drug/alcohol treatment may be required to test frequently, especially when granted permission to leave the program for any purpose. Various methods of testing are used to determine use of crack cocaine. Types of tests that can detect the presence of crack cocaine include:
  • Urine tests
  • Hair analysis tests
  • Saliva tests
  • Blood tests
  • Urine samples are the most frequently used testing samples. They will indicate the presence of many of the most commonly used illicit drugs. A sample of hair from the suspected user is taken at a site close to the scalp for best results. This test is most often used to determine whether a positive urine test can be a false positive, especially when a day or more has passed since the suspected use. Saliva tests are most easily used for drug screens, because they are the least invasive samples to obtain and do not risk violating the personal rights of the person being screened. These tests are accurate within minutes after use of the substance. Blood tests are the most accurate form of testing for drugs of abuse in the system of the user. However, they are costly and require medical testing in a laboratory, making them useful only in circumstances where these methods are available.

    How Long Does Crack Stay in Your System?

    If a user has smoked crack cocaine, saliva tests will indicate this use within 5-10 minutes. This test will remain effective for up to three days after use. Urine specimens will indicate use of crack cocaine within two to five hours after use and for up to three to five days. There are studies indicating that urine testing may find positive results for longer periods, but the circumstances will be for those with very long term and chronic use of crack. These results will not be found for less frequent or occasional users. There are also some confounding conditions that occur with use of urine samples for testing purposes. These include the use of tests taken first thing in the morning versus those taken later in the day, after drinking large amounts of water, and other situations where tests may not be accurately sampled. Hair samples are accurate for the longest period of time and will indicate crack use as early as four or five days after use and for up to three months from the time of use. Many tests will be confounded by the presence of other drugs, the length and amount of use history, the age and size of the user, and whether or not they are taking other prescription medications and/or drinking alcohol at the time of the test. The test may indicate that the user does not have sufficiently high enough levels of the drug in their system to be detected by that type of test. A false test may not indicate whether the user has or has not used, but only that there is little of the substance remaining in their system to test positively.

    Limitations of Drug Tests for Crack

    Crack cocaine tests will measure a by-product, or metabolized product, in the body of the user. Cocaine itself metabolizes faster than most drugs of abuse and cannot be measured. Therefore, the body of the user will determine how accurate testing will be. When the use has been a long-term, consistent habit, the blood, urine and other forms of testing will strongly tend to be accurate. However, depending on the size of the user and the history of their use, it is possible for tests to fail.

    False Positives on a Drug Test for Crack Cocaine

    Especially with urine specimens, the variability of the sample, taken at different times of day, can increase likelihood for a false positive of the drug. Early morning samples will tend to measure much higher than those taken later in the day. Those samples taken too early after use may measure a false negative. Testing is an imperfect method, no matter which test is administered.
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