There are five primary types of drug tests: urine, blood, hair, saliva, and sweat. Most common is the urine test which has the benefit of being inexpensive and less intrusive than the blood test.
Urine drug test kit is the most common type of drug testing. These are very easy, quick, and accurate drug testing methods for determination of single drug or multiple drugs in a fresh urine sample.
- Urine drug testing is the least expensive of the test methods.
- Can be done at home (for example by parents).
- Detect use primarily within the past week (longer with regular use).
- Can be affected by abstaining from use for a period of time before the test
- Are often temperature tested to insure sample integrity.
Hair drug test kit usually detects drug abuse up to 90 days of usage. Approximately 70 hair strands are cut to the scalp with a length of 1 - 2 inches, and tested for the presence of abused drugs. Ingested drugs circulate in a person's bloodstream, which nourishes the developing hair follicle. Trace amounts of the drugs become entrapped in the core of the hair shaft in amounts roughly proportional to those ingested. These drug residues cannot be washed, bleached, or flushed out and are stable over time. Thus, a drug history can be obtained from the hair of any individual.
- Hair drug tests considered a relatively unobtrusive method of drug testing.
- Currently many times more expensive than urine tests (~$100-$150).
- Detect substance use over a longer period - Do not usually detect use within the past week.
- Require a sample of hair about the diameter of a pencil and 1.5 inches long. They can not be done with a single hair.
- Test positive a little more than twice as often as a urine test. In a recent study, out of 1823 paired hair and urine samples, 57 urine samples tested positive for drugs of abuse; while 124 hair samples from the same group tested positive.
- Hair drug tests are not significantly affected by brief periods of abstinence from drugs.
- Can sometimes be used to determine when use occurred and if it has been discontinued. Drugs, such as opiates (codeine, morphine, heroin) lay down on the hair shaft very tightly and are shown not to migrate along the shaft, thus, if a long segment of hair is available one can draw some "relative" conclusions about when the use occurred. However cocaine, although very easy to detect, is able to migrate along the shaft; making it very difficult to determine when the drug was used and for how long.
- Able to reliably differentiate between opiate and poppy seed use.
- Many hair tests now check for more than the NIDA 5, and include at least Cannabis, Ecstasy / MDMA, Cocaine, Opiates, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, Phencyclidine (PCP), Benzodiazepines, & Barbiturates.
Saliva drug test kit is currently the most effective drug screening method as there are currently no known methods for defeating saliva drug testing methods. Saliva testing easy and quick to perform and is commonly used in pre-employment scans, random drug testing, sports event screening, and many other applications where quick and accurate detection is needed. Saliva drug tests usually require approximately 30 minutes to develop.
- Saliva tests are considered a relatively unobtrusive method of drug testing
- Recent innovation in drug testing technology
- Trace amounts of ingested drugs are present in saliva.
- Are still relatively uncommon
- Are easy to administer.
Blood drug test kit is a very effective drug screening method however blood collection is required which may pose a challenge at certain situations.
- Blood drug testing is considered to be the most intrusive method for drug testing.
- The most expensive method of testing.
- Most accurate method of testing.
- Are the least common method of testing (most likely due to high cost).
Sweat (Patch) Tests
- Sweat Analysis Drug Testing is considered a relatively intrusive method of drug testing because they require the wearing of a patch for an extended period of time.
- Sweat tests are still relatively uncommon
- Controversial in terms of accuracy. There is some reason to believe that surface contamination (such as cannabis smoke) can cause a false reading.
Sweat Analysis Drug Testing can detect use which would not trigger other tests. Because of the short detection period for many drugs in urine, single use more than a week ago of many drugs will not cause a positive urine test. Because the skin patches are gathering sweat over an extended period of time, it is possible that any use during that time will produce a positive result.
- Fingernails, like hair, are made of the protein keratin.
- Results of a fingernail sample will represent drug use that is approximately 4-5 months from the time of ingestion.
- Fingernails can be clipped, or, if length does not allow, can be shaved in a safe and pain-free sample collection.