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Drug and Alcohol Testing Course: Specimens Used and Types of Tests

27 November, 2023

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A drug and alcohol testing course provides individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform drug tests in various settings. It is an essential requirement for those who want to work in the testing industry. The course teaches students to effectively identify and analyse the presence of drugs or alcohol using different methods. It involves strategies to minimise the risk of contamination. Moreover, it may cover topics such as legal regulations and proper record-keeping procedures.

Drug and alcohol testing is a vital procedure in many settings. It is common in high-risk workplaces where the influence of illicit substances can lead to accidents. It is also essential in legal procedures and healthcare to determine the possible abuse of drugs. Thus, the role of a collector is immensely important, as the results of a test can have serious implications. This article will present what the testing course covers, including specimens, test procedures, and collection requirements.

An Overview of Drug and Alcohol Testing Courses

A drug and alcohol testing course is a basic requirement for individuals applying as a collector. It covers a wide range of topics related to the testing procedure, collection techniques, and analysis. Participants of the program will also learn about the legal regulations surrounding drug and alcohol testing in various settings.

Part of the course outline is to teach the importance of confidentiality and privacy when conducting the test. This includes how to handle situations where an individual tests positive for drugs or alcohol. It is especially critical for workplace testing, where the rights of employees have to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, it trains individuals on how to handle possible conflicts and other unexpected situations.

Participants will gain an understanding of the different types of drugs and alcohol, as well as their effects on the body. It includes recognising the signs and symptoms of substance use, as well as the short-term and long-term consequences of abuse. The successful completion of the course allows individuals to apply to work in a testing laboratory, primary care centres, or in-house departments.

Benefits of Taking the Class

  • Individuals have flexible options, such as online learning and classroom training.
  • Gain a comprehensive knowledge of drug and alcohol testing procedures.
  • Learn skills in interpreting drug and alcohol test results.
  • Improve the ability to identify signs and symptoms of substance abuse or impairment.
  • Open various employment pathways after obtaining a certification.
  • Employers can ensure the reliability of the test procedures to be compliant with relevant standards.
  • Learn how to conduct onsite drug testing, including the chain of custody of transporting the samples to the laboratory.
  • Minimise the legal risks or liabilities due to incorrect testing procedures or inaccurate results.

A person sealing the urine sample container

Specimens Used in a Drug and Alcohol Testing Course

The drug and alcohol testing course uses the three main types of specimens, including urine, saliva, and breath. Each sample type has its advantages and limitations. Urine testing is the most common drug screening method due to its availability and easy sample collection. It is non-invasive and provides a wide window of detection for a wide range of substances.

The second type is an oral or saliva drug test. This method involves swabbing the inside of the mouth to collect oral fluid samples. It can detect the common drugs of abuse, such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioids. Moreover, alcohol testing commonly uses breath samples to detect impairment or intoxication.

The initial screening typically detects the presence of illicit drugs or alcohol. When the test indicates positive substance use, further analysis is necessary to validate the results. Confirmatory testing uses more advanced laboratory techniques to determine the exact amount of substance present in the sample. One of these techniques is the Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) method.

Collection Requirements

Professionals follow special procedures to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the sample. It includes properly identifying the donor, observing them during the collection process, and sealing the specimen container correctly. Moreover, they must document every step of the procedure to follow the codes of practice.

The collection centres must be thoroughly clean and free from possible contaminants that may interfere with the results. They must ensure the environment is secure and that proper privacy measures are taken. In addition, the collection container or testing device should be sterile. Overall, these requirements must adhere to legislative requirements in testing, such as the Australian Standards.

Workplace breathalysers with AS3547 certification

Types of Tests Performed in a Drug and Alcohol Testing Course

One of the types of tests in a drug and alcohol testing course is the breath alcohol screening test. This method utilises a breathalyser device to detect alcohol in the breath. The device can also measure the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or the level of impairment. The learning program teaches individuals how to operate a breathalyser correctly.

Drugs of abuse in urine are one of the standard detection methods. Urine samples can detect a wide range of substances, including illegal and prescription drugs. It also has a longer detection period than a blood test. It can trace drug and alcohol metabolites for up to 48 to 72 hours after consumption.

The quantitation of drugs in urine is done by measuring the amount of drug metabolite present in the sample. While screening test kits detect the presence of substances, they cannot determine the exact amount. A laboratory procedure is essential to identify the specific drug and concentration level. This method adheres to the AS/NZS 4308-2008 procedures.

What Is the Most Accurate Test?

Laboratories use the GC-MS method through urine due to its high accuracy rate. It is also considered the gold standard in drug and alcohol testing. This method combines two analytical techniques to offer reliable and precise results. It also can detect small traces of drugs and alcohol in the samples.

In cases of non-negative test results, laboratories may utilise a comprehensive pathology test through blood. A blood test can determine the exact concentration of substances within a 6 to 12-hour detection window. This is beneficial for identifying current usage or impairments, especially in post-incident scenarios.

Conclusion

The drug and alcohol testing course provides individuals with a comprehensive understanding of alcohol and drug analysis. This includes the correct procedures for specimen collection, detection and quantitation of drugs. Moreover, the course teaches theoretical knowledge on the effects of substances and considerations for policy in workplaces. Individuals may take the course through online training and complete the practical component in a classroom setting. Upon completion, individuals may be able to work in laboratories and collection centres.

The test methods included in the training courses are urine, oral fluid, and breath testing. It includes the specific collection procedure for each specimen and how to quantify them. For alcohol screening, a breathalyser test is the most cost-effective procedure. Furthermore, the testing devices or collection environment must be clean and free from potential contaminants. Overall, the learning program is essential for the accuracy and reliability of the test in various settings.

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