Uses of a Drug and Alcohol Urine Test: What are Alternatives?

Misuse of alcohol or drugs has profound effects on health and safety. Many people consume alcohol to cope with stress or simply immerse themselves in its pleasing sensations. However, drinking alcohol excessively for a short period impairs perception and motor functions. Thus, high intoxication increases the risk of accidents in driving or working. Similarly, the inappropriate use of drugs affects the normal functions of the body and the brain. Specifically, they decrease vision, hearing, speech, and coordination. It also affects judgment and reasoning, which are necessary for assessing dangers in the surroundings. In the workplace, substance impairment is a leading cause of accidents or injuries. Therefore, a drug and alcohol urine test is crucial for safety-critical industries.

People ensure safety by checking their intoxication through alcohol test kits before driving. Devices at Breathalysers Australia efficiently measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through a breath sample. The BAC is the amount of alcohol in the blood and indicates the degree of intoxication. The higher the BAC level, the more severe the impairment. Likewise, a drug and alcohol urine test examine the urine to detect alcohol or commonly abused drugs. Monitoring and detecting impairing substances among employees or in other settings are critical in managing safety hazards.

Uses of a Drug and Alcohol Urine Test

A drug and alcohol urine test is useful in various settings, especially in securing public safety. The high number of substance-related casualties leads to stricter regulations to minimise the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol use. Furthermore, drug and alcohol testing is essential in the following environments:

  • Treatment centre – people undergoing rehabilitation or under probation undergo regular testing to ensure they remain clear or sober during the program.
  • Roadside screening – a drug and alcohol test is a customary procedure on the road. Police officers conduct the tests at sobriety checkpoints or if they suspect a driver is impaired. Police use a breathalyser to check the BAC while a saliva test for drugs. Consequently, a person must give an evidential test at a police station if the BAC is over the legal limit (0.05%). Likewise, if the initial drug screening result is positive, a confirmation test is also necessary regardless of the amount. 
  • Child custody cases – a court-ordered test is necessary if the court suspects a parent abuses a drug or alcohol. A drug and alcohol test helps protect the child from the harm of addictive substances. 
  • Workplace testing – it is common for workplaces to conduct regular screening to minimise safety hazards. High-risk industries implement a zero-tolerance policy to keep the working environment drug and alcohol-free


How Does a Drug and Alcohol Urine Test Work?

A urine test is a cost-effective method to screen for alcohol and illicit substances. A person provides an adequate sample for laboratory analysis. Additionally, the test is done in a controlled environment to avoid tampering with the sample to circumvent the results. A standard drug and alcohol urine test can detect the substance exposure within 12 to 24 hours of use. The test examines for ethanol and illegal drugs, including the inappropriate use of prescription medications. The common substances included in drug testing are amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and opioids (narcotics). If the initial tests return positive, the laboratory will conduct a confirmation test through the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test. A GC MS test is an advanced test that can detect alcohol or drugs for up to 72 hours. 

Drug and Alcohol Test: What are the Alternatives

Workplaces or testing centres use the drug and alcohol urine test because it is reliable, accurate, and less intrusive. Nonetheless, various alternatives are available for drug and alcohol screening. Various test procedures can analyse the alcohol content through different biological samples. The other test methods are:

  • Breath test – a breathalyser test is the standard method used in police roadside screening. Fuel cell breathalysers accurately estimate the BAC even in high-volume or prolonged uses. It is the quickest and non-invasive method to trace alcohol concentration.
  • Mouth swab test – saliva can reveal drug and alcohol use within 6 to 24 hours. A mouth swab test is the standard method for drug screening at roadside checkpoints because it is convenient and less invasive than a urine or blood test. 
  • Blood sample test – a blood test is the most accurate test type. However, it is also the most costly and invasive procedure. Therefore, they are suitable as a secondary test to confirm initial positive test results. 
  • Hair follicle test – hair sample tests take an ample amount of hair to determine alcohol or drug usage. Additionally, hair tests have a longer detection window and can trace substance use for up to 90 days. Thus, it helps determine if a person has a substance use disorder. 


Benefits of Workplace Testing

A significant portion of the working sector consumes alcohol regularly. It is typical to see employees drink at the end of the day or unwind on weekends. However, many employers consider drinking after work hours a safety issue. This is because, despite its rapid absorption, the body burns off alcohol at a fixed rate of one standard drink per hour. As a result, excessive consumption leads to having aftereffects or impairment at work the next day. Therefore, companies implement drug and alcohol urine tests to minimise substance impairment. Companies that adopted a workplace or testing policy reduced their accident cases significantly. Furthermore, consistent monitoring helps deter alcohol and illicit substance use. It also lowers tardiness and absences, reduces costs and liabilities, and improves overall productivity. 

Workplaces conduct drug and alcohol urine tests for various reasons. The common reasons are pre-employment, post-incident, random, reasonable suspicion, and post-treatment. A pre-employment test is vital to avoid hiring an applicant with risky behaviour. Additionally, it is crucial to test for drugs or alcohol after an accident to find out the exact cause. Constantly monitoring the workplace helps identify employees with current impairment or dealing with a substance use disorder. Moreover, the employer may only facilitate workplace tests through a company policy or prevention program. Finally, employees must perform the tests for reasonable safety reasons. 

Professional Breathalysers at Breathalysers Austalia

A drug and alcohol urine test is an effective tool to identify individuals with substance use problems. Drug screening through urine tests is critical in reducing health and safety risks in the short and long term. Moreover, a more efficient way to determine alcohol impairment is through breathalysers. Most BACtrack personal devices at Breathalysers Australia utilise fuel cell sensor technology for the highest reliability and accuracy. Fuel cell breathalysers give consistent BAC readings and are specific to ethanol. Thus, they are less likely to produce false positives. Additionally, you may choose from the keychain, smartphone, or the Pro series devices of BACtrack for personal use. Lastly, the BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2, Mobile Gen2, and Alcovisor Mercury are suitable devices for workplace purposes using the largest fuel cell sensors.