Different Types Of Drug Test And Their Effectiveness

Drug testing, whether it’s pre-employment, scheduled or random is one of the best ways to prevent and minimize the use of illicit drugs in the workplace. Many workplaces also do drug testing based on possible exposure to narcotics –this is particularly important in law enforcement-, grounds of suspicion, post-accident when an employee returns to work and after rehabilitation.

This is important because alcohol abuse and illicit narcotics can cause accidents at work, affect workers’ productivity, lowers their morale and cost you as an employer a lot of money in compensation claims. So, protect yourself and other innocent workers from expensive lawsuits and avoidable accidents by identifying drug users in your organization and providing them with an assistance program that will help them become rehabilitated. That said, there are different ways to test for drugs.

Urine Test for Drugs

This is the most common form of drug testing and is as “non-invasive” as they come. Workers get to pee in a cup, and their urine is screened for traces of drug metabolites. These drug residues are often present in the body even after the effects of the drugs must have worn off. You should be aware that the presence of certain metabolites in the urine may not be an indication that the individual was under the influence of drugs at the time he took the test.

A urine test is only effective for drugs and narcotics. If you want to test for alcohol, it has to be conducted shortly after the person has consumed alcohol. This is why it is generally considered ineffective for alcohol testing.

Breath Testing for Alcohol

This is more frequently used in alcohol testing. Known more accurately as the breath-alcohol test, it’s used to identify just how much alcohol is in the individual’s system at the time of testing. Usually, all the individual has to do is blow into the tester and that will provide an instant feedback on the person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of testing. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal driving limit in the US.

In fact, if the individual’s BAC is 0.02 and above, they should be stopped from carrying out any tasks that require considerable safety. A BAC level of 0.04 is often seen as positive to the drug testing and mandates the employer to stop the individual from carrying out any safety related tasks. Its downside is it can’t be used for any other drug testing except alcohol.

Oral Fluids for Drug Testing

In this drug testing method, the individual either submits saliva or other oral fluids, although a swab of the inner cheek is often sufficient. It’s effective for detecting both alcohol and drugs like cocaine, marijuana and meth. It is effective for determining immediate or very recent usage in the individual. This is not used as frequently as the other two. It’s often used when there’s reasonable suspicion of impairment.

Sweat Testing for Drugs

Deployed through the use of a skin patch that measures drug levels from sweat. This however, isn’t commonly used in workplace drug testing. It’s used mostly when compliance is necessary during probation.

Blood Testing for Drugs

This is quite effective at determining the quantity and presence of drugs and alcohol in the body at the time of administration. It’s thought to be more effective and accurate than urine testing for blood alcohol levels. However, there’s scarce data on how effective it is at accurately determining drug levels in the body. It is only used in severe circumstances such as injury or fatality arising caused by an accident.

Testing Hair for Drugs

This is often able to successfully determine what drugs the individual has used over the course of 3 months. It doesn’t provide immediate evidence of drug usage. But using the history, it is possible to determine if the individual has a habit of ingesting illicit drugs. It is less invasive and ineffective for determining alcohol levels.

As there is a variety of ways to conduct a drug test, likewise there are many locations to get a drug screening. They range from hospitals, urgent cares, blood laboratories, family doctor and individual companies such as Workflow, in Orlando Florida.

Oscar King is a small business owner and freelance writer who contributes articles and insights into running a business effectively and efficiently.

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