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An increasing number of employers are making drug testing mandatory to improve workplace safety and ensure employees’ good health. Employers usually have a chosen testing center, and the method is compulsory for the employees to avail themselves before they get their letter of appointment. If you have never undergone any drug test before, it’s understandable if the mere thought of it seems scary to you. So, it helps to make yourself a bit more informed about the types of drug tests and their effectiveness.

Factors affecting the accuracy of the drug tests

The accuracy of different types of drug tests depends on several factors. Before getting into the kinds of tests, let’s list out the factors that impact them:

  • The chemical nature of each drug consumed
  • Quantity of drugs consumed
  • The body type of the person 
  • Abilities and skills of the testing organization
  • Technology utilized in the drug test
  • The procedure of processing and handling samples
  • Presence of other prescription drugs
  • The extent of time passed since consumption.

Here’s presenting a brief rundown of the five standard drug tests that you might need to avail of.

Five types of drug tests and their effectiveness

  • Urine drug test

Urine tests are the most common kind of drug testing that is cost-effective, quick, easy, and painless. It can detect the presence of both prescription and illegal drugs. The human body, after taking alcohol or certain drugs, releases waste products from these substances in the urine. Urine drug tests are all about checking the level of such byproducts in the urine.

This test is only useful if the person has had the drug in the past few weeks or days. Urine screens have cut-off levels, which means the results are positive when the drug’s amount is over a specific level. Urine tests are standard in the case of a dot drug test.

  • Saliva drug test

A saliva drug test, also known as the mouth swab drug test, utilizes saliva to test the presence of alcohol and drugs. It is a quick and easy test where the saliva collected from inside the mouth reaches the lab for testing.

Though instant mouth swab tests are also available in the market, employers do not use them because of the issues with accuracy. Saliva tests can detect drugs from right after their ingestion to about 24 to 48 hours after their consumption. It is instrumental in checking for the consumption of methamphetamine, amphetamine, PCP, opioids, cocaine, and marijuana.

  • Hair drug test

Hair drug tests are not as standard as urine or saliva tests because the former is more expensive than the other two. For the hair follicle drug test, the experts take a small amount of your hair from your head using scissors. When someone has no hair on their head, a tester can collect the sample from body hair.

This sample goes through analysis to detect illicit and prescription drugs during the ninety days before the test. However, an interesting fact about this test is that it cannot detect recent drug use. Also, there is no way to cheat this test using certain kinds of shampoos or hair products.

  • Blood drug test

Blood drug tests are the most invasive and expensive of all kinds of testing methods, but they also have the highest accuracy levels. This test is famous for detecting the actual substance in the blood rather than the chemicals it has left behind. It might be asked as a part of pre-employment or random screening after an on-the-job injury.

The problem with blood drug tests is that it’s accurate only for a few hours to a day after consuming the drugs. On the other hand, it’s a pretty expensive procedure. Thus, most employers prefer to rely on different types of drug testing methods.

  • Sweat drug test

Unlike urine drug tests that detect drug metabolites, perspiration testing helps detect the non-metabolized or parent form of the consumed drug. It is instrumental in detecting abused drugs like heroin that can only be spotted in urine tests for a short time after use.

In this case, you will get a sweat patch to wear on your skin for fourteen days. The patch continuously captures any drug metabolites that are present in your sweat. Though employers can use this test, it’s more suitable to monitor individuals on probation or involved in child custody battles.

The Endnote

These are the standard drug tests used by employers to ensure that you’re clean of any kind of addiction. It’s important to mention in this regard that most drug tests are tough to cheat. Even in situations where you might dilute the drug in your system, the person taking the test might suspect foul play and ask for a retest. So, it’s better to fight the addiction rather than trying to cheat the test.