At Home Drug Test: What Are The Common Methods
31 August, 2023
At home drug tests help determine if a person has taken illegal substances or misused a prescription drug. The common methods are urine, saliva, and breath testing. Each test kit differs in the substances they can detect, their sensitivity, and the sample collection procedure. They are easy to use and give instant results. Individuals can use them in the privacy of their homes. Hence, these tests provide a convenient alternative to going to a laboratory.
Drug and alcohol testing has been used in a variety of settings. Many companies implement these tests to minimise safety hazards in the workplace. It is also vital in preventing road or car crashes. With the increasing cases of drug abuse and substance-related accidents, many individuals take the initiative to ensure their safety. In this article, we will explore the common methods of drug testing, their accuracy, and usage guidelines.
At Home Drug Test Through Urine
At home drug test through urine is one of the most efficient methods to detect drug use. It works by identifying drug residue breaking down in the body called metabolites. Urine samples can show drug metabolites for up to 48 hours. In addition, it can trace multiple substances from a single kit, depending on the number of panels.
There are several types of urine test kits, and they are dip tests, cassettes, and integrated sampling cups. The first type uses a chemical strip to dip into the urine for saturation. The strip colour will change if it detects the presence of drugs. Additionally, the cassette type requires a few drops of urine. The result will be shown based on the number of lines.
The last type is the integrated urine cup. It can analyse the sample without needing paraphernalia. After providing a urine sample, the subject secures the cup and waits for the results. A line will also appear to indicate the results, whether positive or negative. However, these devices do not measure the concentration of drugs in the system.
What Substances Can Be Detected
- Marijuana: a drug derived from the cannabis plant. It includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for its psychoactive effects.
- Cocaine: a powerful stimulant used for its euphoric and energising effects.
- Opiates: Central nervous system depressants known for their pain-relieving and sedative effects. For example, morphine, codeine, and heroin can be highly addictive and have the potential for abuse.
- Amphetamines: synthetic drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. They are commonly prescribed for medical conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, they can have short-term and long-term health risks and can be addictive.
- Ethanol: the substance found in alcoholic beverages.
At Home Drug Test Through Saliva
Developments in oral fluid testing make it a preferred screening method for some individuals and workplace drug testing. At home drug tests can provide information about recent drug use that is less invasive than urine or blood tests. It involves swabbing the inside of the mouth with an absorbent stick to collect saliva samples.
Saliva drug test works by detecting drugs that have entered the bloodstream and travelled to the salivary glands. After collecting the specimen, the saliva flows along the test strip until it reaches a “control line”. Generally, it can detect common drugs of abuse taken in the last 5 to 48 hours. It is an efficient alternative when a person cannot produce a urine sample at the time of the test.
The common application of this method is in the workplace and roadside drug screening. It is efficient for reasonable suspicion tests to determine current impairment or recent drug use. Like urine, it cannot determine how much drug has been ingested. Thus, it requires a confirmatory laboratory procedure if the initial screen shows a non-negative result.
Accuracy And Reliability
Saliva tests have high accuracy in detecting illegal drugs. Laboratory studies show a high correlation between oral fluid results and blood tests. Moreover, it is difficult to tamper as the test can be done in full view of the administrator. The sample can also be collected in any environment.
Nonetheless, there are factors that can affect the validity of the results. These include medication use, an incorrect collection process, and improper storage. The collection and handling of saliva samples must be done correctly to prevent contamination. If any of these factors are compromised, it may lead to inaccurate or inconclusive results.
At Home Drug Test Through Breath
At home drug tests through breath can detect and measure blood alcohol levels in the system. There are balloon breath test kits, which are ideal for single use. However, the most common tool is a breathalyser. It is a portable device utilising sensors to estimate Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). The BAC is the concentration of alcohol in the blood, indicating the intoxication level of a person.
A breathalyser is specific for alcohol testing. It works by undergoing a chemical reaction process when the sensors come in contact with alcohol in the breath. The sensors produce small electrical currents proportional to the amount of alcohol in the blood. Then, the device converts the electrical output into the corresponding BAC value.
Since it requires only a breath sample, it is the most non-invasive and easiest method. A breathalyser is reliable and efficient for personal or professional use. Workplaces use pro-grade alcohol testing products to monitor employees. It is also useful in healthcare and treatment centres and roadside screening.
Breath Test Guidelines
Breath alcohol testing is easy to administer. Before using a breathalyser, it is vital to wait 20 minutes after eating, drinking, or smoking. Not waiting can result in a false reading. To use the device, turn it on and wait for the signal to blow. Once ready, take a deep breath and blow steadily to the mouthpiece for 5-6 seconds.
Most breathalysers, like BACtrack, have a one-touch button. After providing a sample, wait for the device to display the results on the screen. If it detects alcohol, it will calculate the BAC amount, usually expressed in percentages.
At home drug test kits provide a convenient way to screen for illicit drugs. The common methods are urine, saliva, and breath alcohol testing. A urine drug test is useful for a general check. It can detect a wide variety of substances for an extended period. On the other hand, saliva drug testing kits are ideal for reasonable suspicion. It can detect the presence of illegal substances within 5 to 48 hours after use.
Urine and saliva drug testing kits require further laboratory testing if they show non-negative results. A confirmation test, such as GC-MS, is vital to validate evidence of drug use. It can identify the specific substance and their concentration values. Moreover, a breath test is efficient for screening alcohol. A breathalyser can detect alcohol impairment or intoxication after 20 minutes of consumption. With the availability of home test kits, screening for substance abuse is more accessible and easier.