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Drug and Alcohol Testing Laboratories: How Much Do They Cost?

30 October, 2023

A laboratory staff talking to a woman while others wait for their turn

The misuse of drugs and alcohol has significant adverse effects on individuals. Drug and alcohol testing laboratories are crucial in detecting misuse of ethanol and prescription and illicit drugs. Laboratory testing may cost between $50 to $200 per screening. Generally, blood and hair tests are more expensive than urine and saliva tests. These are all reliable and accurate tests. Moreover, the commonly tested substances include ethanol, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, and heroin.

The price of laboratory screening depends on several factors, such as the type of test and the number of substances tested. The devices used in testing also contribute to the price. Specialised methods increase accuracy, but they also increase the cost. Typically, more expensive tests are needed for confirmatory testing or as evidence in court. This article will present the cost and contributing factors, types, and substances detected when using a laboratory for testing.

Drug and Alcohol Testing Laboratories – Cost and Contributing Factors

Drug and alcohol testing laboratories are crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone in the community. Many industries use their services to comply with regulations, mitigate legal risks, and ensure workplace safety. This includes industries such as healthcare, transportation, law enforcement, aviation, construction, and mining. Laboratory test costs are generally between $50 to $200 per test.

The cost of the test will vary depending on several factors. Firstly, the type of test is a significant factor in the cost. This is because some screenings are more expensive than others. Secondly, the number of substances tested will reflect the number of panels used during analysis. Thirdly, the location and reputation of the laboratory may also impact the price. Generally, more known facilities have higher prices. Lastly, the equipment used for analysis may also affect the price.

It is crucial to use quality drug and alcohol testing services that reach Australian standards. This ensures the accuracy and reliability of the test. Moreover, it is vital to have a team of collectors who follow strict protocols to avoid sample tampering and contamination.

Advantages

There are several advantages to conducting substance use screening in the workplace. Here are some of them:

  • Conducting pre-employment tests allows employers to determine which applicants are more prone to reckless behaviours.
  • Implementing random drug testing deters workers from consuming substances.
  • Substance screenings after an accident or near miss allow employers to determine the cause and gather evidence.
  • Drug tests under reasonable suspicion prevent impaired employees from causing incidents and endangering others in the company.
  • Drug and alcohol screenings enable companies to identify people who have substance use disorders. This allows them to provide support for treatment.
  • It improves the productivity and efficiency of employees.

A lab technician holding hair strands in tweezers

Drug and Alcohol Testing Laboratories – Types of Tests

There are several testing options that drug and alcohol testing laboratories use. The urine screening is the most commonly used type. It uses urine samples to detect traces of substances consumed in the past 24 hours. Moreover, ethyl glucuronide (EtG) tests may detect alcohol intake for up to 80 hours.

Another screening method is saliva testing, which has a detection window of 12 hours. The sample collection procedure entails using a swab stick on the inside of the cheek or under the tongue. Moreover, blood testing is considered the most accurate type. It is often used for confirmatory testing due to its accuracy. However, it is expensive. Additionally, it uses needles to draw blood samples from the arm or fingers.

Hair follicle screening has the lengthiest detection window of 90 days. Collectors gather 100 to 200 strands of hair from the scalp for samples. However, it does not detect substance use within the last seven days due to the nature of hair growth.

What is Confirmatory Testing?

Confirmatory testing refers to conducting additional tests to confirm the presence of specific substances. This test typically occurs after an initial testing has produced a non-negative result. It is more accurate and reliable because it utilises sophisticated methods for analysis. An example is gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This method identifies and quantifies the substances in the body.

Confirmatory tests are crucial for workplaces, legal purposes, and healthcare facilities. This is because it provides conclusive evidence of substance use. Furthermore, it may disprove false positive results. This allows individuals to avoid undue disciplinary action or penalties.

A group of laboratory staff conducting an analysis

Drug and Alcohol Testing Laboratories – Detected Substances

Drug and alcohol testing laboratories are vital to identifying and detecting substances in individuals. The detected substances depend on the panels used in analysing the blood, hair, urine, or saliva samples. Commonly, labs use panels to detect ethanol and illicit substances like amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP), and heroin. However, they may also search for traces of drug metabolites of antidepressants, barbiturates, nicotine, and morphine.

Furthermore, laboratories may use various methods to trace substances in the body. This includes the use of the GC-MS and an immunoassay device. Another method is Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). Using advanced methods improves the accuracy of the reports. However, they also increase the price so they are used less frequently.

Using the appropriate test with sufficient detection windows is vital to detecting substances. Additionally, some individual factors affect how quickly substances are eliminated from the body. The primary factors are the amount and type of substance consumed. Moreover, their health condition, age, gender, and body type may affect the detection windows.

Quantitation of Drugs in the Body

The quantitation of substances in the body is crucial in detecting substance abuse. It involves measuring the concentration of substances or their metabolites in biological samples. Often, chromatographic methods in combination with mass spectrometry, such as GC-MS or LC-MS-MS, are used to quantify the substances.

Accurate quantitation of drugs in the body aids in creating treatment plans for their recovery. It helps medical practitioners gain an understanding of the consumption habits of their patients. It also helps researchers understand substance metabolism. Moreover, the results of these tests are admissible in court proceedings under professional expertise.

Conclusion

Drug and alcohol testing laboratories detect a wide range of substances using different testing methods. This includes hair, blood, saliva, and urine testing. These screenings contribute to workplace health and safety, especially in industries with a zero-tolerance policy. Furthermore, they help identify those suffering from alcohol and drug abuse. It also helps healthcare providers form treatment plans for patients. Each test can cost between $50 to $200. The cost depends on several factors.

These tests may detect alcohol, illicit substances, and prescription drugs, depending on the panels used. Furthermore, laboratory technicians use specialised techniques such as GC-MS and LC-MS-MS to quantify the amount for more precise reports. However, besides laboratory tests, there are screening methods that provide results within minutes. This includes using alcohol breathalysers. Some may benefit from using these to monitor their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. BACtrack breathalysers from Breathalysers Australia provide accurate and reliable results within minutes.

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