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Amphetamine Drug Test: The Need to Know

02 February, 2024

Medicines and a syringe on top of a drug test result form

Amphetamines are a class of psychoactive drugs that stimulate the nervous system. There are medical uses for it. However, some do illicitly misuse them. Hence, amphetamine drug testing became more commonplace. It is the process of tracing meth/amphetamines in the system of an individual. This is done using blood, hair, saliva, and urine tests. The detection periods differ among the tests, with the shortest being saliva tests at 24 hours. Meanwhile, the longest is a hair test with 90 days.

Amphetamine screenings are common in various settings. It is also crucial for properly identifying those with substance abuse disorders. Amphetamine addiction can cause many negative impacts on the individual and society. Individuals may develop higher risks for strokes and seizures. Meanwhile, misusing these drugs may also cause accidents. This article will present information on amphetamine screening, the testing methods, and their detection periods.

What is Amphetamine Drug Testing?

Amphetamine drug testing refers to the process of tracing the presence of amphetamines in the body of an individual. Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that people use for various purposes. Some use it as a prescription medication for medical conditions, such as the sleep disorder narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). On the other hand, it is also a component of illicit drugs like methamphetamine.

Screening for this is common in various settings, such as workplaces, schools, sporting events, law enforcement agencies, and healthcare facilities. Testing helps identify potential substance misuse for intervention against substance use disorders. It also allows people to detect who could be misusing drugs and posing safety risks.

Their identification is crucial for ensuring the safety of everyone in the community. This is because the drug can cause various physical and mental symptoms that harm the individual. Furthermore, it can cause erratic behaviours that can lead to violence and possible accidents. Unfortunately, amphetamines are also highly addictive. Hence, testing for amphetamines can serve as a deterrent and a detection measure.

Prevalence and Risks Associated With Amphetamine Abuse

In an Australian survey in 2016, about 1.4% answered that they misused meth/amphetamines within the last 12 months. Furthermore, it states that one in five users would take the drug at least once weekly. These are some of the risks associated with amphetamine abuse:

  • People who use injections to take the drug have higher risks of tetanus, vein damage, and infections. Sharing needles can increase the possibility of developing hepatitis B and C and HIV and AIDS.
  • Amphetamine abuse can also cause an increased probability of stroke and high or low blood pressure.
  • People with amphetamine addiction also have higher chances of seizures.

A person handing a urine sample to a medical professional

Amphetamine Drug Testing Methods

Amphetamine drug testing methods refer to the various techniques that detect the presence of amphetamines in the body. There are several methods to conduct this drug screening. Firstly, urine drug tests. This is one of the most widely used tests because of their non-invasive collection procedure and long detection periods. Professionals typically collect a mid-stream urine sample for analysis.

Secondly, saliva testing. Many organisations conduct this for onsite testing because of its convenient collection procedure. This typically involves using a swab stick to gather oral fluid specimens from under the tongue and inside the cheeks. Thirdly, blood tests are considered the most accurate testing method. However, drawing blood samples can cause discomfort, making it less common for initial testing for amphetamines.

Lastly, hair follicle tests. This method is helpful for acquiring a history of substance use. Many use this to ascertain periods of abstinence due to their long detection period. For a hair test, a trained collector will usually gather 90-120 hair strands.

Accuracy and Reliability

These various tests are all accurate and reliable methods of testing for amphetamine drug misuse. Nevertheless, it is crucial to use test kits from reputable brands and testing services from accredited service providers for reliability. Doing so can also help ensure the accuracy of the reports.

In addition, individuals should ensure proper collection when using kits at home. This is because not following the instructions may lead to invalid or inaccurate readings. They must also ensure that amphetamines are listed in the testing panel of the kit. Meanwhile, service providers should follow the chain of custody procedures to prevent contamination or adulteration of the samples.

A trained collector gathering saliva samples

Detection Period in Different Amphetamine Drug Testing Methods

Each testing method can have different detection times for amphetamine drug testing. This is because various substances generally stay in the system for different periods. Moreover, factors like the amount and frequency of consumption can also affect the detection windows. For urine testing, it can detect amphetamines for about two to five days. This is a moderate detection period that can be helpful for various purposes.

Meanwhile, saliva testing can trace amphetamines about 24 hours after the last consumption. This is the shortest period, but it can be useful for tracing recent use. Workplaces, in particular, may benefit from this short detection window. Meanwhile, amphetamine blood tests can detect the drug approximately 48 hours after the last intake.

Lastly, a hair follicle test can detect amphetamine use for about 90 days. However, this may vary depending on the length of hair gathered. In addition, this usually does not include the substances consumed seven days before the collection due to the nature of hair growth.

Are There Risks for False Positives?

Yes, there are risks of false positives. It can occur due to several reasons. Firstly, cross-reactivity with certain medications and substances can cause a false positive result. Examples of these include some antidepressants, nasal decongestants, and over-the-counter allergy medications. In addition, some medical conditions, like kidney or liver diseases, may lead to inaccurate results.

Hence, confirmatory testing can play a crucial part in ensuring an accurate report. Using advanced laboratory methods like Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) can accurately quantify the amphetamines in the samples. In addition, informing the testing provider about their medical condition and the medicines they take can help prevent false results.

Conclusion

An amphetamine drug test is crucial to trace the misuse of prescription amphetamines and illegal variations, like methamphetamines. This helps medical professionals and organisations identify individuals with addiction issues and help provide intervention and treatment. They may choose among oral fluid, hair, blood, and urine drug tests for this. Each has different advantages and detection windows that may suit the preferences and needs of the individual or organisation.

It is essential to take the collection procedure and detection window into account when selecting the test. In addition, they must select an accredited service provider and kits to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the reports. It is also ideal for individuals to inform the testing staff about medications or health conditions that may interfere with the results of the test. Doing so can prevent the risks of false positives and undue consequences.

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