Saliva Drug and Alcohol Test: Definition, How it Works, and Results
13 October, 2023
The saliva drug and alcohol test is a non-invasive and efficient testing method. Collectors conduct the test by swabbing the insides of the cheeks for 5-10 minutes. They can also do it until they collect enough saliva for testing. Saliva can detect substances within hours of use. The results of the tests are usually available within 24 to 72 hours after collection. Its accuracy depends on when a person underwent the testing due to the detection window.
Substance abuse is a serious issue that affects people and communities worldwide. To combat it, various ways have been developed to detect their presence. The saliva test is one kind that has gained popularity because of its convenience and reliability. The following sections will present its definition, working mechanism, and results. Whether it is an employer looking to screen potential employees or a concerned individual wanting to understand more about it, this article will provide them with the necessary information.
What is Saliva Drug and Alcohol Test
A saliva drug and alcohol test is a method to identify people who have consumed the substances. It involves collecting a saliva sample of a person. Afterwards, professionals analyse it. Saliva drug tests are becoming increasingly popular due to their non-invasive nature and the ability to detect recent drug use.
Saliva drug testing kits, also known as oral fluid drug tests, are widely available and easy to use. These kits typically include a collection device that people can swab inside their mouth to collect specimens. Workplaces commonly use saliva tests for their testing programs. Authorities also use it for roadside drug testing. It is beneficial for them because it provides quick and accurate results.
One of the main advantages of saliva tests is the detection window. Unlike urine testing, which can detect substances for several days or even weeks after use, saliva testing has a shorter detection window. This means they can detect drugs shortly after use, usually within a few hours. Additionally, it can provide a good indication of impairment at the time of testing, especially when it comes to drugs like marijuana.
Substances that Can Be Detected
Here are the substances a saliva test can detect:
- Marijuana – It is a recreational drug, but it can also be for medical purposes.
- Cocaine – This drug is extremely addictive and dangerous. People can snort, inject, or smoke it.
- Amphetamines – These are stimulants, which work by increasing energy, alertness, and activity levels.
- Opiates – Derived from the opium poppy plant, they are generally used to treat pain, but can also be abused for their euphoric effects.
- Benzodiazepines – These are a group of drugs that can treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders.
- Alcohol – It can be found in many forms, including beer, wine, spirits, and hard liquors.
How Saliva Drug and Alcohol Test Works
Saliva drug and alcohol tests are highly reliable and efficient methods for detecting recent drug use and alcohol consumption. These tests work by analysing saliva samples from an individual. Lab technicians then screen the samples they collect for the presence of various substances.
The process begins with the collection of specimens using a mouth swab or other testing devices. The sample is then screened using advanced equipment specifically designed for this purpose. These can detect the presence of drugs in the saliva, providing dependable and timely results.
In addition to drug testing, people can use saliva tests for alcohol testing. Alcohol test kits work similarly to saliva drug tests. However, they specifically detect ethanol presence. These tests can be useful in situations where they need to determine alcohol impairment. These scenarios include drink driving cases or workplace alcohol testing. By analysing the saliva sample, it can accurately determine whether they have consumed alcohol and estimate their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Reasons to Conduct a Test
There are several reasons why there is a need for saliva testing. Workplaces use it to ensure a safe and drug-free environment. By testing for the presence of drugs and alcohol, employers can identify individuals who may be incapable of doing their jobs. They can then take appropriate action to prevent accidents and injuries.
Moreover, law enforcement utilises the test for roadside testing. This is particularly important in cases of driving offences, where drivers may be operating vehicles under the influence of substances. By conducting these tests, authorities can detect and deter substance-impaired driving, ultimately ensuring the safety of the public on the roads.
Accuracy of Results of Saliva Drug and Alcohol Test
One of the key advantages of saliva drug and alcohol testing is its accuracy in detecting substances. These tests can identify the substances people commonly abuse. In addition, it can provide reliable results within a short period. The trustworthiness of these tests is crucial in workplace testing programs as it helps employers make informed decisions regarding employee safety and productivity.
Saliva testing methods have been studied and proven to be reliable. This is especially true if within 12 hours of substance ingestion. This is because the test detects the presence of parent drug molecules, unlike urine or blood tests which would detect metabolites. These tests have a high level of sensitivity. This means they can accurately identify even trace amounts of substances in the saliva.
Furthermore, the test is highly specific. It can differentiate between different types of drugs and alcohol. This is important because it allows employers to determine the specific substances an individual may have consumed. As a result, it enables them to take appropriate actions based on the type of drug or alcohol detected.
Are there Risks of False Positives?
Certain factors can contribute to false positives in saliva tests. One example is cross-reactivity with other substances or medications. However, the tests have been designed and validated to minimise these. Additionally, a professional can perform laboratory confirmation testing to rule out false positives and ensure accurate results.
It is important to note that false positives are more likely with certain drug classes or medications. For instance, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs that contain substances similar to illicit drugs may lead to false positive results. However, with proper understanding and interpretation of the test results, it can be effectively managed.
Overall, the saliva drug and alcohol test is a cost-effective and accurate way to detect recent substance use without any invasive procedures. It can monitor compliance with treatment programs. Moreover, it can detect substance abuse in workplaces or educational settings where traditional methods may not be possible or desirable. Organisations can rely on the test to identify individuals who have an impairment. Consequently, they can take appropriate actions to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone.
Generally, many professionals consider the results as reliable if they are conducted within 12 hours of substance ingestion. It also provides the results in a short amount of time. Therefore, it is a good tool to quickly test for the presence of substances. They are also becoming more widely used as a home testing method by individuals who want to confirm if their loved ones have been using the substances. They can buy a kit online or in pharmacies.