TESTING – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is drug testing so important?
Drug abuse in the workplace costs many billions of dollars
each year. It also has a negative effect on the security
of the work environment. Drug and alcohol abuse has become
such a growing concern that law enforcement agencies and
hospitals routinely test as part of assessing the overall
condition of an individual. Due to the fact that drug users
miss more days of work and are late for work more often
than non-drug users, some employers include a drug screening
test as part of the application process.
might an employer consider asking an existing employee to
submit to a drug test? Employers may ask an employee to
submit to a drug test if there is a suspicion that the employee
may be using or abusing drugs or alcohol. The employee might
suddenly be exhibiting episodes of short-term memory loss,
slow learning, confusion, anxiety and what appears to be
toxic delirium. Also, some employers will perform a drug
test if the employee is being considered for a promotion.
drugs are being tested for? Predominantly, the drugs of
abuse being tested for include: marijuana, cocaine, barbiturates,
amphetamine, methamphetamine (Ecstasy), Oxycontin, opium,
heroin, morphine, methadone, phencyclidine, angel dust (PCP)
kinds of test kits are used for drug testing? There are
a number of FDA-approved, relatively low-cost urine drug
testing kits available for purchase by individuals or professionals.
These tests follow the guidelines of the National Institute
on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. There are a numerous urine test kits, some of
which test only for one drug and others which can test for
up to as many as ten different drugs. Other means of drug
testing are the sweat patch, hair tests and saliva tests.
reliable are the urine drug tests? The one-step test kits
can be used to detect various traces of drugs and their
metabolites with up to 99% accuracy, but they provide only
preliminary analytical results. A more specific scientific
method (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) must be used
to confirm the results. In other words, when drug of abuse
preliminary test results are positive, clinical consideration
plus professional judgment should be used for verification.
are the dip strip urine drug testing kits like? The dip
strip urine drug test kits contain a THC test cassette,
a disposable sample dropper and instructions for use. Other
items required but not provided in the kit are a specimen
collection container and a clock or timer. The subject of
the test collects a urine specimen in the container. Then
the tester removes the test strip or test disk (depending
on the kit) from its foil pouch. Have the subject collect
a urine specimen in the container. The tester either dips
the test strip into the urine specimen or places the test
disk on a dry, flat surface and uses the dropper to drop
two drops of the urine specimen into the well located on
the disk. Results can be interpreted in 3 to 5 minutes.
is the urine drug testing kit using the split cup like?
This test provides a high-quality screening method with
99% accuracy. There is no need for any additional materials
and the tester does not have to handle the urine sample.
The subject of the test collects a urine sample in the cup.
The tester only has to turn the key to activate the drug
test cup. The test cup also includes an adulteration test
to check the integrity of the urine. With this drug test
cup, the tester can read the results at his or her convenience.
What is the sweat patch test like? With this test, a patch
(similar to a Band-Aid) is attached to the subject’s
skin. The patch collects sweat for approximately seven days
and is then tested in a lab for drug residue. This test
is generally used in criminal and child custody cases to
determine whether the user has been rehabilitated. This
test is not that reliable because the patch is susceptible
to contamination from environmental sources. In other words,
a false positive result can be caused by drug molecules
adhering to the patch when the wearer is near other people.
What about hair tests? When 1.5 inch long strands of hair
cut close to the scalp are lab analyzed, a drug history
covering 90 days can be obtained. However, hair testing
is a very controversial new technology because of concerns
that it might be considered discriminatory and the results
can be wrong due to environmental contaminants. The National
Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has done studies which show
that some drug molecules are attracted to the pigment melanin
and adhere more strongly to dark hair than they adhere to
about saliva testing? Drugs show up in saliva faster than
they show up in urine, hair and sweat. Saliva testing may
reveal whether a person is high, making it a useful post-accident
test. Saliva testing is just beginning to be used, so its
effectiveness is yet to be determined.