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Instant Drug Test: Advantages, the Types of Tests, and the Detectable Substances

16 February, 2024

A urine sample beside a testing kit

Drug use issues are a significant concern in many communities. Hence, drug testing has become more common to help maintain safety and ensure the well-being of individuals. A convenient method of screening is using an instant drug test kit. Compared to laboratory testing, it produces results within minutes and can be used at any time. Many saliva and urine instant test kits can detect substances like amphetamines, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine.

Substance use disorders can cause various negative impacts on individuals and those around them. It can affect their health and relationships. Some drugs can also encourage reckless behaviours that may lead to legal repercussions. Drug testing helps identify those with substance use issues and provides interventions and resources for them to recover. This is why many companies implement them in their policies. This article will present the advantages of instant tests, the different types, and the substances they can trace.

Advantages of Instant Drug Tests

Instant drug tests offer several advantages over traditional laboratory initial testing. The foremost advantage is the speed at which it can produce a result. Instant tests use immunoassays to provide quick qualitative results. The immunoassay device can show results within minutes. On the other hand, the turnaround time for lab drug tests can take about 24 to 48 hours.

Another advantage is the convenience it provides. Testing kits are available to purchase online or in physical stores. They can also be used at any time and whenever the individual needs to. This removes the hassle and additional costs that a laboratory screening provides. Furthermore, it enables individuals to conduct a private test.

Lastly, an instant testing kit is a cost-effective and flexible testing option. Individuals can choose among various products without spending a significant amount for a test. This can also help organisations who wish to save costs but still get accurate results. Instant tests are ideal for quick onsite testing. It can also eliminate the hassle of going to a laboratory to perform the test.

Relevance of Instant Testing

  • Instant drug screening enables individuals and organisations to make informed decisions with quick results.
  • It enables people to quickly identify those with substance use disorders. This can be useful for providing interventions and helping them get treatment resources.
  • Instant drug screens can also be helpful when conducting post-accident testing since they can quickly determine if substance misuse played a part in the incident.
  • The speed of instant tests allows companies to retain productivity even while conducting blanket testing.
  • It also helps businesses save on costs for initial screens since drug testing kits are cheaper than lab tests.

A medical professional holding a sterile urine sample container

Different Types of Instant Drug Tests

There are several products of instant drug tests available on the market, which people can use for various purposes. Firstly, urine drug testing kits are popular for tracing substance misuse. In particular, many companies conduct workplace drug testing using these because they can trace substances or their metabolites for several days up to a week. Moreover, the collection procedure is easy, and many kits have in-built integrity testing that ensures samples are valid.

Hair drug testing kits are considered instant kits, but the individual still needs to send the sample to a lab. These kits allow individuals to easily collect a hair sample in the privacy of their own homes and send it off for analysis. Hair testing is known to be highly reliable, as it can detect drug use over a longer period compared to other testing methods.

Saliva drug screening kits are another option for instant tests. It has a shorter detection period than urine tests but offers a more convenient and non-invasive procedure for specimen collection. The saliva collection procedure typically uses a swab stick to gather samples from inside the cheeks and under the tongue.

Accuracy and Reliability

Considering the accuracy and reliability of a drug test kit is crucial before selecting one. Hence, many choose to get kits from reputable brands since it ensures the kit follows the relevant standards for cut-off levels. This can help reduce the occurrence of false positive results.

Moreover, it is crucial to remember that multiple factors can affect the detection of drugs in the system. One example is the detection window. The detection range for oral fluid drug screening is 12 to 48 hours, depending on the substance. Therefore, some may benefit from using urine testing kits for a longer detection window.

A man slumped over a table with pills and alcohol on it

Types of Substances Detected by Instant Drug Tests

Instant drug tests can identify various types of substances. Many products offer multiple panels so individuals can quickly test for a wide variety of substances at one. Hence, it is crucial to check the specific substances the drug test kit has panels for. Moreover, reading the product specifications and instruction manual can provide more accurate results.

Instant screening can trace illicit drugs. Common drugs of abuse include marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, and methamphetamines. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that many use for medical purposes and as a recreational drug. Meanwhile, cocaine and methamphetamines are highly addictive stimulant drugs that can cause euphoria. Ecstasy is also an illegal synthetic stimulant that causes euphoria. Lastly, heroin is an opioid that functions as a depressant.

Furthermore, instant tests may also detect misuse of prescription drugs. This can include amphetamines, which are commonly used for treating narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Many also misuse medicines that contain oxycodone due to developing dependence on them from chronic pain conditions.

Are There Risks for False Positives?

Yes, there are risks of false positives when using instant drug and alcohol testing kits. A common reason is cross-reactivity with other substances that may cause a positive result even if the individual did not consume drugs. For example, certain medications or foods can trigger a false positive for specific substances. Moreover, improper use of the kit or sample contamination may also cause inaccurate results.

It is important to note that instant tests are screening tools and should not be used as definitive evidence of drug use. Hence, if an individual receives a non-negative result, following it up with a confirmatory test is crucial.

Conclusion

Instant drug tests enable individuals and organisations to quickly trace substances or their metabolites from body samples. They produce results within minutes and reduce the need for laboratory drug testing. Moreover, they are cost-effective devices that people can buy online or in physical stores. It is convenient for initial testing and reduces the hassle of conducting screenings for many organisations. Individuals can also buy these to conduct screenings at home.

People may choose between saliva or urine drug screens, depending on their needs. Oral fluid tests are ideal for tracing recent use. Meanwhile, urine testing provides longer detection periods, but the individual does need bathroom facilities for the collection process. These can trace substances like heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin. Many kits have multiple panels for checking different substances at once. Nevertheless, using confirmatory testing after a non-negative result is recommended.

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