Mobile drug testing detects commonly abused substances like cannabis (marijuana), methylamphetamine (speed), and ecstasy (MDMA), including ice. Drug testing is conducted in roadside screening with random breath testing to monitor and apprehend impaired drivers. Drug and drink driving is a significant safety issue in Australia, causing traffic accidents and collisions. Driving with any amount of illicit drugs or exceeding the alcohol limit is subject to legal penalties, including fines, license suspension, and imprisonment.
Substance abuse is a public health and safety concern, affecting many lives. It has lasting detrimental effects on a person’s mental and physical functions. Therefore, roadside inspections are vital to prevent impaired-related incidents. Similarly, many workplaces administer mobile testing to manage safety hazards and improve low productivity. It plays a vital role in deterring illegal drug use and adverse impacts on health and society. The subsequent sections discuss drug test procedures, substances detected, and their implementation.
Mobile Drug Testing: What Substances Are Detected
Mobile drug testing in roadside inspections involves screening for ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, and methamphetamines. The current methods could not screen for other substances like heroin due to difficulties establishing a “significant level”. However, any illegal drugs found in the system are subject to legal penalties. Police will perform a preliminary drug screening if they reasonably suspect a driver is impaired. Consequently, a person must take a confirmation test at a police station for non-negative results.
Drugs can stay in the system for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the drug type and amount. They are also detectable longer for regular users. Likewise, a combination of substances can take a more extended period before the body metabolises it. Moreover, various test kits or procedures can trace multiple drugs. For example, individuals can get instant test kits between 5 to 12 panels. The number of panels indicates the types of substances it can test.
Many companies also request mobile drug testing at a nearby location to monitor substance abuse or impairment at work. Accredited agencies or laboratories offer onsite testing services, allowing employers to test for drugs or alcohol efficiently. Companies may use standard drug tests for most abused drugs like marijuana, cocaine, basic opiates, PCP, and amphetamines. However, they may also include a wider range.
Most Abused Substances
A 12-panel drug test offers more opportunities to detect a wide range of substances, including combined drugs. The following can show up in a 12-panel test:
- Amphetamine (AMP)
- Cocaine (COC)
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
- Methamphetamine (mAMP or MET)
- Barbiturates (BAR)
- Benzodiazepines (BZO)
- Buprenorphine (BUP)
- Methadone (MTD)
- Oxycodone (OXY)
- Morphine (MOP)
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Mobile Drug Testing Methods
Mobile drug testing often uses urine and saliva samples. Urine is the standard test method because it can cover many types of drugs, and sample collection is less intrusive than a blood test. Furthermore, urine screening uses immunoassays to trace substances. A test strip dip in a specimen sample changes colour or shows a line indicating the presence of a drug. However, test kits only provide qualitative data and do not measure drug quantity.
A saliva test is an efficient alternative for urine when the latter is unavailable. In addition, it is the screening method used in road inspection or accident scenes because it is quick, painless, and less invasive. Police officers can facilitate a mouth swab test in plain sight, minimising tampering with the sample or results. The process involves swabbing the inside of the cheek with an absorbent pad or sponge. Other collection methods include spitting or suctioning to gather oral fluids.
Less common mobile drug testing methods are blood tests and hair follicle tests. A blood test is the most accurate because it directly examines the parent drug instead of its metabolites. However, it is the most intrusive and costly method; therefore, only used for confirmation testing. Moreover, hair follicle tests can trace drugs or alcohol over a long period but do not measure the amount. It is suitable for determining a person’s substance use history.
Factors That Can Affect a Drug Test
Test results and detection windows may be affected by the following factors:
- Drug type and amount used
- Frequency and duration of use
- Preparation and route of administration
- Hydration level
- Medical condition
- Interaction with alcohol, OTC, and prescription medication
- Metabolic rate
- Physical activity
- The sensitivity of the testing method used
Mobile Drug Testing Implementation
Aside from roadside screening, mobile drug testing is widely used in work sites. Workplaces are critical for managing substance use or abuse since working adults spend an average of 40 hours per week. In addition, management is liable for hazards or injuries that took place. The negative impacts of drug use include disabilities, high hospitalisation and insurance expenses, increased absenteeism, low work output, and a high turnover rate. Therefore, companies include drug testing in their safety program.
The typical circumstances for facilitating workplace drug tests are pre-employment, post-incident, blanket, random, and reasonable suspicion. It is an essential requirement to include drug screening during hiring if the occupation is high-risk. Industries that implement regular testing are mining, transportation, construction, and manufacturing. Moreover, conducting a test after an accident is important to determine if substances contributed to the incident. Portable kits and devices like breathalysers are valuable for on-demand testing.
Lastly, companies may request mobile drug testing on scheduled or random tests. A blanket drug test is when a company subjects all employees to the procedure. It is often a part of an annual medical check-up. On the other hand, random tests are given without prior notice to the employees. It helps identify individuals who are using illegal drugs at any given time. Therefore, it is difficult for a person to circumvent the results.
Benefits of Workplace Testing
- Compliance with industry or state regulations
- Deter alcohol and drug use or abuse
- Manage and eliminate preventable safety hazards
- Lower accidents, absenteeism and turnover rate
- Lessen expenses
- Refer employees with substance abuse problems for treatment or rehabilitation
- Improve performance and employee morale
- Mitigate legal risks or liabilities
Mobile drug testing detects most abused drugs like marijuana (THC), cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines that endanger health and safety. Illegal substances create long-term adverse impacts on mental and physical functions. It can severely impair senses, reasoning, and coordination, leading to accidents and other hazards. Therefore, roadside and workplaces implement regular inspections to minimise untoward incidents and deter drug use. It also enables companies to manage safety risks and save costs.
Instant test kits are convenient and easy to use. Urine analysis is the standard test method used in many situations because it is quick, less invasive, and cost-efficient. On the other hand, law enforcement uses oral fluid tests in roadside drug screening because of its simple collection procedure. However, the drugs detected may be limited. Finally, a secondary test via laboratory analysis can confirm preliminary non-negative test results. Other devices used are portable breathalysers like BACtrack for alcohol detection.