Given their name and subject matter, it’s not hard to see how drug tests can be a little intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with them. After all, they’re usually administered in circumstances where the stakes are high – like when you’re applying for a new job or trying to keep the one you have. So how do drug tests work, exactly?
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about drug tests by explaining what they are, what types exist, and what you can expect when taking one.
What Is Drug Testing?
Let’s start off by giving a definition to the term we’re discussing. Put simply, drug testing is a form of medical testing that involves the collection and analysis of biological samples for traces of certain drugs and/or metabolites. The specific drugs being looked for will depend on the type of test being administered, as we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Why Do People Get Drug Tests?
There are a variety of reasons why drug testing might be required or requested. For example, many employers now routinely require potential new hires to take a background check and drug test as part of the hiring process. This is done in order to ensure that the company is not hiring individuals who use illegal drugs, as doing so could create a variety of safety, liability and FCRA compliance issues.
Similarly, many schools and other organizations that work with children require employees and volunteers to submit to drug testing. This helps to ensure the safety of the children in their care, as well as protecting the organization from any potential legal troubles.
In some cases, drug testing may also be ordered by a court as part of a custody battle or for other legal reasons. For example, if one parent is accused of using drugs, a court may order drug testing in order to determine whether or not this is true and, if so, whether or not it is impacting the child’s safety.
Types of Drug Tests
Now that we know a little bit more about what drug testing is, let’s take a look at the different types of tests that exist. The following is a breakdown of the most common and what each entails.
Saliva drug tests, also known as oral fluid-based tests, are another type of drug test and are considered to be the most popular. They are less invasive than other types of drug tests, as they only require the individual to provide a small sample of saliva, which can be collected in a matter of minutes.
What To Expect – How Saliva Drug Tests Work
In order to take a saliva drug test, the individual being tested will be given a small device that resembles a toothbrush. They will then be asked to place the bristles of the device under their tongue and move it around for a minute or two in order to collect a sample of their saliva.
Once the device has been properly used, it will be sealed and sent to a lab for analysis. The results of the test will usually be available within a few days, or sometimes faster if the lab is on-site.
What Drugs Can Saliva Drug Tests Screen For?
Saliva drug tests can screen for a variety of different drugs, including:
● Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — a compound in cannabis
● Phencyclidine (PCP)
Urine drug tests, otherwise known as urine drug screens, are among the most common types of drug tests. They are relatively cheap to administer and can detect traces of drugs in the body for up to a few days after the last time the drug was used.
What To Expect – How Urine Drug Tests Work
In order to take a urine drug test, the individual being tested will be asked to provide a sample of their urine in a small cup or other container. They will then be given a few minutes to use the restroom in private in order to provide the sample. It is important that the sample be collected in a clean container, as contaminants in the urine sample could lead to a false positive result.
Once the sample has been collected, it will be sent to a lab for analysis. There, technicians will test the urine for traces of the drugs that are being looked for. If any of these drugs are found, the individual will be considered to have failed the drug test.
What Drugs Can Urine Drug Tests Screen For?
Urine drug tests are capable of screening for a wide variety of drugs and the metabolites they create in the body.
Some of the most common include:
Blood drug tests are less common than other drug tests, the main reason being that drugs themselves are only detectable in the blood for a very short period of time after they are used. For this reason, blood tests are generally only used when it is suspected that someone has used drugs very recently.
What To Expect – How Blood Drug Tests Work
Blood drug tests are similar to urine drug tests in that they require the collection of a biological sample. In this case, however, the individual being tested will have to provide a small sample of blood, which will then be sent to a lab for analysis.
At the lab, technicians process the blood sample in order to isolate any drugs or drug metabolites that may be present. If any of these are found, the individual will be considered to have failed the drug test.
What Drugs Can Blood Drug Tests Screen For?
Blood drug tests can screen for specific or multiple drugs at once, depending on the needs of the person administering the test. However, because drugs only remain detectable in the blood for a very short period of time, blood drug tests are not often used for routine drug testing.
Some of the most common drugs that can be detected by blood tests include:
Hair Drug Testing
Believe it or not, a person’s drug use can actually be detected through a sample of their hair. Hair drug tests are not as common as other types of drug tests, but can be useful in certain situations. For example, unlike blood tests, they can accurately detect drugs up to 90 days after they were used. They’re also incredibly reliable, having been proven to be five times more effective than urine tests.
What To Expect – How Hair Drug Tests Work
To administer a hair drug test, a small sample of hair will be collected from the individual being tested. This sample can be taken from any location on the body, but is typically taken from the head. A common misconception about these tests is that the entire strand of hair is what ends up being tested. In reality, only a small portion (usually about 1.5 inches) of the strand and folicle is needed for an accurate reading.
Once the sample has been collected, it will be sent to a lab for analysis. There, technicians will test the hair for traces of the drugs that are being looked for. If any of these drugs are found, the individual will be considered to have failed the drug test.
What Drugs Can Hair Drug Tests Screen For?
Hair drug tests can screen for a wide variety of drugs, including:
What Should People Know Before Taking a Drug Test?
While you won’t need to study for it, there are some things to keep in mind when preparing to take a drug test. As we’ve already covered, different tests have different protocols, so it’s important to know what kind of test you’re taking and how to prepare for it.
Saliva: Saliva drug tests require some degree of preparation, but not much. Test subjects will need to avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 10 minutes prior to providing a sample.
Urine: For urine drug tests, the main thing to keep in mind is that you will need to provide a urine sample. This means that you will need to have access to a toilet and that you will need to be able to produce a sample of urine. Aside from that, avoid eating foods that can change the color of your urine like blackberries, beets, and rhubarb.
Blood: For blood drug tests, there isn’t much to do beforehand than to make sure that you are able to provide a small sample of blood. This can usually be done through a simple finger prick, but in some cases a venipuncture (or blood draw) may be necessary.
Hair: Hair drug tests require the collection of a small sample of hair, which can usually be taken from any location on the body. However, it is important to note that these tests require a relatively large amount of hair, so individuals with very short hair may not be able to provide a sample.
Drug tests are an important tool in the fight against drug abuse, but it’s important to understand how they work. By understanding the different types of drug tests and what they screen for, you can be sure that you’re getting the most accurate results possible.
Why Choose Axiom Backgrounds
As a business, it is important to ensure that your employees are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job. Drug testing can help you create a safer and more productive workplace.
There are many different types of drug tests, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common type of drug test is urine testing, which is quick, easy to administer, and relatively inexpensive.
Another popular type of drug test is hair follicle testing. This type of test is more expensive than urine testing, but it can detect drug use for up to 90 days after last use. Whatever type of drug test you choose, Axiom Backgrounds can help you administer it quickly and easily. We are a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug testing, employment screening, security & investigations and more. Contact us today to learn more about our services!