All About Drug Tests

A toxicology test is used to check for drugs and other chemicals in the blood, saliva, or urine. In most cases, the testing is done on saliva or urine rather than the blood, because many drugs will show up in a saliva or urine sample. Plus, saliva and urine tests are much easier to administer than blood tests.

Why Drug Tests are Done

• To check if a drug overdose could be causing strange behavior, life threatening symptoms, or unconsciousness. The test is done within the first 4 days after the drug was taken.

• To find out if students involved in activities like cheerleading or sports are using drugs.

• To check for drug use in the workplace, and is quite commonly done for people working in public safety such as childcare workers and bus drivers.

• Checking for the presence of date rape drug.

• Looking for drug use among athletes to enhance athletic ability.

How to Prepare for a Drug Test

Many medications can influence the results of the test. Be sure to list all the medications you might have taken within the last 4 days, including supplements, over-the-counter medicines, and natural health products. If you have any concerns about the test, the risks involved, or what they the results will mean, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.

How Drug Tests are Conducted

Saliva Test

The person collecting the sample with either do the following:

• Ask you to spit into a special tube, or

• Swab the inner part of your cheek.

Urine Test

The recommended way of collecting sample urine is the midstream clean-catch collection method. This method keeps the sample free from contamination. Here’s how you do it:

• Wash hands well before collecting the urine.

• Remove the lid of the collection cup carefully, making sure your fingers don’t to touch the cup’s inside.

• Make sure the area around the genitals is clean

• Begin urinating into the toilet/urinal

• After urinating for a few seconds, put the collection cup in the stream without stopping the flow. Collect about a 90 ml. (3 fl oz.) sample

• Take care not to touch the cup with your genital area, and don’t get any foreign material into the sample.

• Once you finish urinating, replace the lid on the cup carefully, and return it to the lab. If you’re doing it at home, refrigerate the sample if you can’t get it to the lab in an hour.

Drug abuse tests may involve having a person of the same sex watch you giving the sample to make sure the sample is yours, and that you haven’t contaminated it. The temperature of the sample may also be checked to confirm it’s fresh.

Blood Test

A blood sample will be taken from a vein in your arm.

• First, an elastic band is wrapped around the upper part of your arm to restrict blood flow, thereby making the veins more visible and easier to inject. The needle.

• The needle site is the cleaned with alcohol, and the needle put into the vein.

• A tube is attached to the needle to collect the sample

• Once enough blood is collected, the tube is removed and a cotton ball placed on the needle site.

What the Results Mean

• High Values; these are generally caused by a drug overdose, either on purpose or by accident. The overdose can be as a result of a single large dose of the medicine, or an overuse of the medicine long-term. Problems can also arise from interactions between medicines, especially if you start taking new medicine. For example, a high dose could mean that the medicine is not being taken correctly, or that the body fails to process the medicine as it should.

• Low Values: a detection of low levels of over-the-counter or prescription medication might mean that you aren’t taking the medicine as you should.

Factors that Affect a Drug Test

The results might not be helpful, or you might not be able to take the test if:

• Your urine has blood in it.

• You eat or drink certain kinds of foods, such as those that contain poppy seeds.

• Your urine sample volume is not large enough.

• You took too long to collect the sample after taking the drug.

Don’t forget that some medicines can significantly alter the test results. Plus, the test can mistake some drug for others. For instance, cough medications that don’t contain opiates can be identified as narcotics.

General Information About Drug Tests
• Urine tests are generally better than blood tests when looking for drugs, since drug traces remain in urine much longer than in blood.

• The toxicology test is not always accurate. In some cases, the test might fail to find drugs that have been taken, and in some, they may find drugs that have not been taken.

• Saliva tests can be as effective in detecting drugs as blood and urine tests, and are comparatively less invasive than blood tests. Saliva tests can easily detect drugs that were taken within the past 24 hours.

• It’s quite dangerous to try altering the test results by consuming large amounts of water or other substances. And in most cases, these do not alter the results.

• If the test results show drug abuse or use, it can have serious implications including job loss or even an arrest. However, the results are not always accurate, and a positive result is confirmed by two or more different test methods.

• A standard test cannot detect the use of inhalants, such as when a person sniffs certain products such as glue, spray paints, lighter fluid, nail polish remover, or cleaning fluids to “get high.”

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