Prescription Drug Testing
Most agencies rely on urine samples as a standard tool for testing for prescription drugs in the system of the user. This is the most cost effective and simple test to procure. Other tests that can detect prescription drugs in the body of a user are blood sample testing, oral liquid sample testing (saliva), hair sample testing, and sweat sample testing. The two most frequently used and most effective, overall, are urine sample drug testing and oral liquid sample drug testing.
Urine Sample Drug Testing
Most drugs will register in a urine sample, and this is the fastest, least expensive method for testing. Few drugs will register false negatives, but there are some drawbacks to urine sample testing that are somewhat awkward to work around.
The first problem with urine sample drug tests is that they are susceptible to tampering by the person providing the sample. Without violating a person’s privacy by watching them provide the sample and strip-searching them to ascertain that they did not switch the sample bottles, it is relatively easy for someone to provide urine samples that do not come from them. Savvy drug users come up with numerous ways to provide a clean urine specimen even though they are using.
Blood Sample Drug Testing
Because of the need for professional gathering of blood samples, this is the least practical and most invasive form of testing. It can take up to 12 hours for some drugs to metabolize into the blood stream, thereby making the testing window difficult to find. With a quicker-acting medication, the time frame will have elapsed, thereby making it an inaccurate method for testing for all drugs of abuse in the system of the user.
The need for a professional to take the sample and the dangers of blood-borne illness being transmitted in the process makes this a seldom used option for testing the presence of prescription drugs or any drugs in the body of the user.
Oral Liquid Sample Drug Testing
Swabbing a person’s mouth to obtain a sample for drug testing is one of the least offensive methods available. Unfortunately, it is costly and the availability of labs that process these tests can be a factor in determining whether it is a test used by an agency or not. Its efficacy is questionable for certain drugs of abuse, since any collection done on tissue after a drug has been snorted may be contaminated by the presence of the drug.
This form of testing is reliable for opioids and methadone. It is sometimes more accurate than urine, because specific drugs can be tested for longer with saliva than with urine samples. Due to its less invasive method of gathering samples, many people prefer this method.
Hair Sample Drug Testing
This method can tell a longer-term use history for the person being tested. Samples may provide use history of several weeks, instead of the two to three days that are available with most urine sample tests. This, too, is a less invasive and more personally private means of obtaining drug content for the person providing the sample.
The primary reason for infrequent use of hair sample testing is due to the prohibitive cost of obtaining test results and the time frame involved in providing results. Most agencies agree that this method may work for long-term information, but is not ideal for receiving immediate or short-term use information.
Sweat Sample Drug Testing
A sweat patch will determine drug presence after being applied to the body of the user for a week. The patch will gather body secretion for that period of time and can be successfully used to test presence of stimulant drugs and opioid drugs. This is an effective test method, but only for long-term use that can be detected for a week long period.
Use of this method may help monitor use for someone in a treatment setting, on probation or by parents suspecting their child is using. It is only somewhat susceptible to tampering, and not appropriate when information is needed on short notice. This form of testing is less invasive of personal privacy, and therefore preferred over urine sample drug testing by many.