Drugs leave residues inside the body long after they have been taken. Tests rely on this fact to detect traces among subjects. Different procedures can be used depending on the type of drugs in question, the urgency of the results, the time period to be covered, the budget for the process, the setting where it will be conducted, and much more. There are four common specimens extracted for these tests which include saliva, urine, blood, and hair. As you will see, each of these has their own pros and cons. The best choice can vary based on the situation.
Samples are easy to collect. They do not require any special tool and subjects do not need to be concerned about modesty. It can be collected at any time without many preparations. If a person has a dry mouth, then drinking water may be necessary but not much else. Subjects will be given a small collection device that they can place their mouth for a while. This should be done in the presence of a monitor to make sure that the samples did come from the right source. The proper labels will then be written and the samples sent to the lab.
The good thing about oral testing is that traces of drugs can be detected from immediate use up to about four days later. In contrast, urine samples cannot provide information about recent intake for up to four hours as it takes a while before the chemicals make their way down the urethra. This is typically used to check for the presence of ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, opiates, and the like. The results have a high degree of accuracy. They can be made available within eight hours for negative tests and 24 hours for positive tests.
This tends to be the method of choice in a lot of settings, especially when it comes to sports. Athletes who medal at the highest levels are often whisked away to the testing tent where they are asked to provide the samples. While they can receive their awards right away, these can be stripped if they ever get a positive result. There are usually two samples: A and B. The A sample is tested first and, in the case of a positive result, the B sample can be checked as well to verify the initial findings.
The problem with urine is that it is easy to falsify. Subjects will need to go somewhere private to pee which gives them the opportunity to switch samples. This has happened many times before. For this reason, monitors can follow them right into the toilet and observe their movements. This minimizes the chances of a switch at this point. Others employ various techniques to get the traces of toxins out of their system in time for the test. Random sampling is the best way to beat this though it can be costly.
This involves the most complex process of all. Drawing blood requires special tools and expertise. Only professionals can do it because mistakes can lead to a variety of problems. Everything will have to be scheduled so random sampling is almost impossible. The sample will need to be handled carefully as it is considered as a bio hazard. It will have to be examined by a third-party laboratory for accurate results. There is no question that it can provide a gold mine of information but it is quite costly and painful. A lot of people do not like to have needles injected in them so this can be difficult to implement uniformly on a large scale.
Lastly, it is possible to conduct a drug test using hair as a specimen. Traces tend to remain for a long while inside hair follicles. If usage is suspected to have occurred weeks prior, then this is the only suitable process. It is often utilized in crime labs and similar settings. This used to be a very expensive procedure but now the rates are getting more affordable while the technology continues to improve. Tricks to pass a hair follicle test will not always prosper given the advancements being made. The best way to get a negative result is to simply not use illegal drugs.