Drug And Alcohol Screening Test: Substances Detected, Methods, And When To Conduct
30 August, 2023
A drug and alcohol screening test can identify various substances, including illicit drugs, prescription medications, and ethanol. Most screening traces for commonly abused drugs like THC or marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates. Several methods can detect drug and alcohol use, such as urine, saliva, blood, and breath testing. These procedures are usually done in workplace settings to monitor impairment in employees. Company programs include testing during pre-employment, after an accident, and with reasonable doubt.
Substance abuse has numerous impacts on a person’s health. It causes severe impairment in the short term, increasing the risk of accidents. Likewise, chronic use can permanently damage vital organs, including the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, it is essential to implement drug and alcohol screening in various institutions. This article will present the types of drugs being tested for, screening methods, and their applications.
What Substances Are Detected In A Drug And Alcohol Screening Test
A drug and alcohol screening test detects various drug classes, including the possible misuse of prescription medication. Drugs are categorised based on their effects, such as depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and narcotics. Thus, each drug type affects the central nervous system differently. It includes impairing the senses, reasoning, and motor abilities. In addition, they all have a high potential for abuse or addiction.
Depressants are drugs that reduce the function of the nervous system. It results in slower brain functions and decreased inhibitions. Small doses can make a person feel relaxed and calm. However, large quantities can lower blood pressure and slow pulse and breathing. It can also cause disorientation, visual disturbances, sluggishness, and nausea. Examples of depressants are alcohol, benzodiazepines, and anti-anxiety tranquilisers.
Another commonly abused drug is stimulants. They accelerate brain function, making people more alert. Examples are amphetamines, caffeine, and cocaine. Moreover, hallucinogens are psychoactive drugs that alter thoughts, mood, and perception. Lastly, narcotics are used to relieve pain and induce euphoria. Due to their effects, some people tend to increase their intake more than the prescribed dosage.
Effects Of Abusing Illicit Substances
- It causes cardiovascular problems like arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest.
- Increases the risk of respiratory issues like pulmonary oedema and worsens conditions like bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema.
- Affects mental health, including developing or worsening anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
- Permanent damage to the liver, kidneys, and digestive system. Gastrointestinal damage can result in acid reflux and constipation.
- Chronic fatigue and sleep problems.
- Weakened immune system.
- Changes in appetite and weight loss.
- Decreased mental sharpness. It can lead to poor concentration or work performance.
- Social consequences such as strained relationships and isolation.
What Methods Are Used In A Drug And Alcohol Screening Test
Drug and alcohol screening tests use multiple methods to detect various substances in the system. A standard method used is urine testing. It analyses urine samples to trace for alcohol or drug metabolites. This method is relatively non-invasive and can detect a wide range of substances consumed over the past several days.
Another method is oral fluid testing. It involves collecting saliva samples through a mouth swab to detect recent drug use. Qualified collectors perform the test, minimising the possibility of tampering or adulteration. Moreover, a breath test can detect alcohol in seconds. A portable breathalyser device can also measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Rapid test kits enable efficient screening due to their quick turnaround time. Therefore, companies can receive the test results immediately. If the initial tests show non-negative results, the samples must undergo confirmatory testing. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is the gold standard in drug and alcohol testing, as it can identify the exact substance and amount present.
Factors Affecting the Result
Several factors can influence the test results. Firstly, each test type has varying levels of sensitivity, specificity, and chain of custody. It is crucial to use reliable drug and alcohol testing services to ensure the validity of the results. Secondly, the time elapsed since drug use. Certain substances are detectable for longer periods than others.
Thirdly, individual factors can affect the tests. Elements like metabolic rate, interactions with prescription drugs, and existing medical conditions can affect the detection window of the test screening. Lastly, incidental exposure to external agents or chemicals may cause false-positive results.
When To Conduct A Drug And Alcohol Screening Test
Drug and alcohol screening tests are implemented in various scenarios. It is crucial in environments where the safety and well-being of individuals are at risk. Employers often conduct these tests as part of their pre-employment process. By doing so, they can identify candidates who may have drug or alcohol-related issues. Knowing these helps employers make informed decisions.
It is critical to conduct alcohol and drug testing following an accident or near-miss. Employers require these tests to determine if substance use contributes to the incident. Thus, it can help identify if employees are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also mitigates legal risks on the part of employers, minimising possible negligence.
Additionally, employers conduct a test on a particular employee with reasonable suspicion. Management requires this test if a person displays signs of intoxication or unusual behaviours that may compromise workplace safety. Random drug testing is an unannounced test to identify employees possibly involved in substance abuse. It also aims to deter drug and alcohol use in the workplace.
Benefits Of Implementing Testing In The Workplace
Workplace drug and alcohol testing programs offer several benefits for both employers and employees. Firstly, it helps to ensure a safe and secure working environment. Companies can identify workers posing safety hazards and take appropriate action to prevent harm. Secondly, reduced accidents lower healthcare costs and other expenses.
Equally important, it allows companies to comply with state or federal laws. Enforcement of drug and alcohol policies helps mitigate legal liabilities as employers prove they take reasonable care to protect the workplace. Finally, it can improve employee morale and productivity. It reduces absenteeism and makes workers feel secure and motivated to perform better.
A drug and alcohol screening test is the process of examining biological specimens to detect prohibited substances in the system. It can detect a wide range of illegal drugs, such as amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. The most common methods are saliva and urine drug testing. In addition, a breath test can measure a person’s alcohol level in seconds. If the initial tests return with a non-negative outcome, confirmation testing is necessary to eliminate the possibility of false positives.
Workplaces implement these tests to ensure employee safety and comply with legal requirements. It may be conducted during pre-employment, post-accident, with reasonable suspicion, and randomly to identify risks or get evidence. Furthermore, it helps companies reduce healthcare costs and improve productivity. It is essential that employers use reliable drug screening services and devices to ensure the accuracy of the test results. With consistent testing, workplaces can maintain a safe environment.