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Testing For Drugs



There are five main types of drug tests used in the United States; and five basic categories of drugs are targeted.  These drug categories include Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates, and Phencyclidine.  Let’s take a look at the kinds of drug tests that are commonly utilized to uncover these forbidden bad boys.

Types Of Drug Tests:

A wide variety of drugs can be detected using any one of several test mediums.  These mediums include hair, saliva, blood, urine, and sweat samples.

—Hair:  Hair testing is frequently used in the court systems of the United States and a variety of other countries to be admitted as, potentially, legitimate evidence.  Snips of hair are analyzed for a variety of drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.  There are no known methods that can be successfully attempted, by the hair donor, to alter test results.  Drugs that were ingested, up to 90 days before testing, can be detected.

—Saliva:  Traces of drugs can be detected from the previous few hours to about 3 days prior to the saliva test.  Detection results emerge almost immediately which is one of the advantages of saliva testing.  A wide range of drugs can be identified, from alcohol to cocaine.

Saliva testing is used mostly for employment drug screenings.  The convenience and quick results make this a widely used assessment.  The downside is the fact that traces of drugs will be apparent for only up to 24 hours, prior to testing.

—Blood:  In spite of the impressive level of accuracy associated with blood testing, these tests are not used frequently since they demand specialized equipment and medical professionals to assist in securing test results; and they are very costly.  Blood tests can analyze the presence of a range of drugs from cocaine to heroin.   Blood testing is typically used in accident investigations, injuries, and DUI’s.

—Urine:  Urine testing is a frequently used assessment and is an accurate method to detect casual drug usage that has taken place within the last 72 hours.  Immediate results can be obtained through the use of a test card but more complex results can be acquired by samples being sent to an official testing facility.  Urine samples can be altered by savvy drug users who know how to beat the test, but urine testing remains widely used.  It remains the least expensive mode of drug analysis; and offers the most flexibility in testing different drugs, including alcohol and nicotine.

—Sweat:  Sweat patches are adhered to the chest or abdomen for up to 14 days.  The stickers are, surprisingly, tamper-resistant and soak up tiny amounts of drug residue that might be secreted from the sweat glands.  Authorized persons remove the patches, freeze them, and ship them to a testing facility to secure results which can reveal illegal substances that had been used at least seven days prior to the test.

Drug testing should never be undertaken as a sole response to a serious problem.  Drug testing needs to be only one component of an entire program that incorporates prevention, intervention, and treatment for individuals who require the compassion and guidance of family, friends, and professionals.  Many drug abusers are crying out to others to help rid their minds, bodies, and souls of this addictive, destructive existence.