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How accurate are modern drug testing technologies?

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Posted February 13, 2015

A series of new rules and regulations introduced in the 1980s with the goal of controlling excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, has led to the need for reliable, convenient, and less invasive drug testing methods and technologies.

Evolution of drug testing services

In the past, drug testing was a complicated and cumbersome affair involving invasive techniques that were unsuitable for testing a large number of persons. Furthermore, tests results were often ambiguous, which resulted in instances where inaccurate data was relied upon for decisions with significant economic and social consequences.

Today, modern testing services have come up with more accurate and precise drug testing methods through better understanding of chemical substances and their effect when introduced into the human body. Currently, testing services utilize multiple tests with varying sensitivity to drugs and alcoholic substances to determine not just the substance but its quantity or volume as well.

Improved tests apart, modern drug testing services utilize functional equipment and devices to conduct accurate tests outside laboratories. Hermetically sealed oral fluid lab test kits make it easier for employees to conduct drug and alcohol tests for a large number of employees, without severe disruptions to the organization’s schedule.

There are detailed standards and rules governing such tests, which have reduced instances of incorrect results due to external contamination. Improved storage and transportation facilities ensure the test samples can be transported over long distances for detailed testing, without risk of incorrect results.

Common drug testing methods

Given below are some common testing techniques for identifying the presence of drugs or alcohol in the human body:

Urine testing

As the name suggests, this method of testing involves obtaining a urine sample from the employee, which is subsequently tested to determine presence of drugs, alcohol, and their metabolites. While highly accurate and reliable, this test is cumbersome, requiring proper and private facilities for collection of the urine sample.

Oral fluid testing

This is a highly functional and convenient method of testing that involves obtaining a sample of the individual’s saliva. The cheek swab is then tested to determine whether the individual has consumed drugs or alcohol in the recent past. The swab can be done quickly and stored properly to ensure zero risk of contamination. The sample can be obtained in public, which reduces the risk of issues like switching of samples, or other activities that may distort the results. These traits make this form of testing ideal for employees seeking to enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and alcohol consumption.

Blood testing

This remains the best way to obtain accurate results. However, it is more complicated when compared to other techniques, involves more safety risks, and requires more infrastructure and facilities for proper and accurate testing.

Future of drug testing

In the future, you can expect drug testing to become faster, less invasive and more accurate. Use of cloud computing may reduce the time required to analyze the samples and determine the results. Equipment that is more sophisticated may help detect the presence of drugs or alcohol from minute quantities of human sweat, or even human hair.

Modern drug testing services have come a long way since the 80s. Enhanced knowledge, newer technologies, and improved standards have enabled employers and authorities to conduct quick tests and take informed decisions based on accurate results.

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