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Saliva Drug Tests
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Saliva drug testing, sometimes referred to as oral fluid drug testing, is a simple and discreet method of drug abuse testing without the inconvenience, embarrassment or biological hazard risks associated with urine specimen collection and handling that completely eliminates the possibility of contamination, adulteration, substitution, or manipulation of the specimen. It is one of five methods used to detect the presence of illegal drugs in a person’s body. The other four are urine, hair, blood, and perspiration (patch) tests.

Saliva drug testing is a little more expensive than urine testing, but less than hair or blood, and typically runs between fifteen and seventy-five dollars. Saliva drug testing is also considered a relatively less intrusive method of drug testing when compared to urinalysis or blood tests and are becoming more and more common as time passes. The test subject feels more like he or she is being given a DNA test than an actual drug test. They are also easy to administer, but require lab processing to ensure accurate results.

Saliva drug testing primarily detects use within the past few days, and can detect more recent use than other testing methods, but have no nationally accepted standards or cutoff concentrations for detection. This makes results greatly dependent on the specific product purchased, and can vary from brand to brand, therefore making results less reliable and acceptable for legal cases. This can be a weak point of the test, and one to be exploited in the legal system.

Oral fluid drug testing is more reliable for detection of crystal methamphetamine and opiates, but less reliable for THC, which is the compound in marijuana that affects the nervous system and gives the drug its effects. However, sensitivity detection levels for saliva are considerably lower than those for urine tests, because the concentration of detectable drug metabolites is significantly less in oral fluids than in urine, because the metabolites are stored in the body’s fat cells. When fat is burned, the metabolites are released into the bloodstream, where they are captured and filtered from the blood by the kidneys. The concentrated metabolites are then passed to the bladder in the form of urine, where they are readily picked up in urinalysis.

Because urine collection is not necessary, there are certain advantages to using saliva drug testing for on-site drug screening. Because the test subject is present for the entire specimen collection and testing process, the possibility of specimen tampering or substitution is completely eliminated, plus, it also eliminates the possibility of accidentally switching or cross contaminating specimens.

Oral fluid drug testing does not require a highly skilled or specially trained test administrator, making it relatively simple for a medical assistant to use on a test subject, nor does it require special sample collection facilities, accessories or equipment for the tester to procure to give the test; in fact, these tests can be performed in their entirety directly on a job location or in the office of a company.

Saliva drug testing seems to be the direction in which screening for the presence of illegal drugs is going, and as it gets more popular, the price should drop even more, making it the ideal method of testing.




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