Drugs and alcohol are substances impairing vital functions like senses, perception, cognitive, and motor skills. The improper use of drugs, including prescription medicines, can adversely affect health and safety. Likewise, even though alcohol is legal, excessive consumption leads to chronic health diseases and increases safety risks. In addition, substance use and impairment pose hazards while driving or working. It is one of the top factors for many road collisions and workplace accidents. Therefore, a drug alcohol screening test on the road or at work is essential in risk management. Drug and alcohol screening can detect initial and chronic exposure to alcohol and other illicit substances.
The drug alcohol screening test is applicable in many situations. The need for testing increases as the misuse of alcohol and drugs negatively impacts the community. In particular, it is a safety hazard on the road and causes low productivity in the workplace. Specifically, they are vital in the following situations:
- Medical care – Drug and alcohol screening are essential, especially in assessing health conditions in emergencies.
- Legal prosecution – Test samples are required as evidence for people charged with drink driving violations or similar cases.
- Rehabilitation – Screening tests help monitor the patient’s recovery from substance use disorder and prevent relapse.
- Risk management – Pre-employment screening and regular workplace tests effectively deter alcohol and illegal drug use. It is also crucial in post-incident or “for-cause” testing.
- Sports events – Ensure that athletes do not take performance-enhancing drugs while competing.
The Drug Alcohol Screening Test
The drug and alcohol screening test identifies the presence of alcohol (ethanol) and the use of illicit drugs. It is customary in safety-regulated industries such as mining, transport, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing. However, many private organisations also implement drug alcohol screening tests to minimise safety hazards. In addition, a workplace policy enables employers to administer alcohol and drug tests legally and mitigate liabilities. Alcohol and drug test occurs in two phases: screening and confirmation. A screening test takes biological samples from the breath, blood, urine, or saliva for analysis. The process only takes a few minutes and detects drugs and alcohol or their metabolites.
Metabolites are the intermediate or end products of metabolism. The drug alcohol screening test includes metabolites since they have a longer detection window than their parent drug. In particular, a breath test is the standard method for alcohol screening. A breathalyser device captures the exhaled breath and analyses the alcohol concentration in the breath sample. In particular, the BACtrack professional breathalysers have fuel cell sensors to measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) accurately. A fuel cell breathalyser detects and oxidises alcohol (ethanol) and does not react with other substances in the breath. For instance, if you consume alcohol, the breathalyser will display a positive BAC depending on the intake amount. The more you drink, the higher the BAC is. Therefore, they are a reliable screening tool for alcohol use.
Drug Alcohol Screening Tests in the Workplace
A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses safety risks in the workplace. The impairment can lead to altered mental status and decreased abilities in motor functions, balance, and reasoning. For instance, a person operating a piece of equipment can cause accidents because of a wrong press of a button. The employer can administer a drug alcohol screening test to help reduce occupational hazards. In particular, drug screening uses urine analysis to detect the presence of illegal drugs. The urine test is least intrusive than a blood sample test and it can identify many types of drugs. Mainly, they can trace drugs for up to 24 hours. In addition, advanced tests like EtG or EtS can detect substances for up to 90 days to determine chronic use.
The workplace can perform a drug alcohol screening test in the following circumstances:
Drug Alcohol Screening Tests: Detection Process
The drug alcohol screening test through a breath test and urine test can determine substance use. A confirmation test is necessary if the initial screening returns a positive result. The testing centre sends the collected sample from on-site to the laboratory for further testing. A confirmation test via Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) is performed. The GC-MS test is widely regarded as the “gold standard” in drug testing. It can specify the actual level or amount of substance use and determine if the consumption has been therapeutic or recreational. In addition, the laboratory follows a chain of custody to ensure the validity and reliability of the test results. They adhere to the Australian Standards for proper handling, storing, and examination of specimen samples.
In case of a non-negative test result, a medical review officer will interview the person for evaluation. In some cases, a prescription drug can influence the test result. A medical review officer ensures the drug alcohol screening test undergoes the right process or procedure. Other test methods include mouth swab test, hair, and blood sample test. They can detect commonly used illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, basic opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine), phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines. In addition, different drugs stay in the body for specific periods. The following methods can detect drugs with the following time frame:
- Breath – 12 to 24 hours (alcohol)
- Blood – 6 to 12 hours
- Urine – 24 to 24 hours
- Saliva – 12 to 24 hours
- Hair – up to 90 days
The Workplace Policy
Substance-related accidents cost the economy billions of dollars every year in healthcare and compensation expenses. Therefore, establishing a workplace policy is an effective and practical strategy to deter alcohol and drug use. It should cater to the organisation’s particular needs and protect the well-being of the employees. In addition, a consistent drug alcohol screening test helps improve productivity and output. The lower use or intoxication in the workplace results in lesser downtime, smoother workflow, and decreased absenteeism. It also boosts employee morale and promotes safe and healthy practices. The improper use of alcohol or drugs may result in disciplinary actions depending on the provisions of the workplace policy. The employer may also offer an assistance program to help affected employees recover from substance abuse.
BACtrack: Professional Alcohol Screening Devices
The BACtrack breathalysers are excellent tools to help keep the working environment safe and healthy. Breathalysers Australia offers accurate and reliable alcohol breath tests with the BACtrack professional series. In particular, professional breathalysers utilises enhanced fuel cell sensors to measure the BAC level accurately. It also maintains consistency longer despite high-volume applications. In addition, it is the same pro-grade technology that police officers used in roadside screenings. Therefore, the BACtrack breathalysers are suitable devices in the drug alcohol screening test in the workplace. You may also avail of the pro-grade accuracy of BACtrack for personal uses. Visit Breathalysers Australia for the comprehensive selection of the BACtrack alcohol testers.