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Saliva Drug Test Facts

April 6, 2010 in Employee Drug Testing Information

Here is a brief and interesting description of how a saliva drug test is performed, its advantages and disadvantages over other forms of drug tests. It also provides some saliva drug test facts for those who are curious to know about this test.

Drug testing has become mandatory in various workplaces and in the field of sports. It can be performed in a number of ways. Drugs can be tested with saliva, blood, urine or hair samples. Nowadays, saliva drug testing is being widely used. It owes its popularity to the simplicity, easiness, comfortableness in usage, and its ability to give fast, yet reliable results. Interested in knowing more on saliva drug testing, then keep reading the below-mentioned saliva drug test facts, its merits and demerits.

Important Saliva Drug Test Facts

  • Saliva is a refined version of plasma, that has the capability to contain trace amounts of drugs and their ensuing metabolites for a period of 24-36 hours. This forms the basis of saliva drug test. It is also known as oral fluid drug test.
  • The saliva drug test kits comes in many forms and shapes. The general way of using such a kit is to place it in the mouth of the individual being tested. The kit draws the saliva through a membrane. The membrane allows saliva to wet the strips containing media of antigen dyes. The antigen dyes act as an indicator. Formation of color on the strip suggests a positive result. There is a particular color for each drug in question.
  • Saliva drug test can detect the following drugs. The detection time for each drug is given against them:
    • Alcohol – from time of intake to 12 hours.
    • PCP – from a few minutes after ingestion to the next three days.
    • Methamphetamine and ecstasy – half an hour from ingestion up to 3 days.
    • Amphetamines – a few minutes to 3 days of consumption.
    • Barbiturates – less than an hour after ingestion up to 3 days.
    • Opiates – from an hour after intake to 3 days.
    • Cocaine – a few minutes after ingestion up to one day.
    • Benzodiazepines – not yet known
    • Cannabis – a few minutes after ingestion up to one day.

Advantages of Saliva Drug Test

  • The cost of saliva drug test is cheaper than the drug tests based on hair or blood. Generally, its cost lies anywhere between $15-$75.
  • Saliva drug test gives results within a time period of 5-15 minutes. This allows fast interpretation.
  • It is a donor-friendly and easy-to-collect method of drug testing. There is no need for a bathroom too, in order to collect the sample, and hence saliva drug testing is non-intrusive as well. The donor has no chance to adulterate his/her saliva as the sample is collected under direct supervision.
  • Saliva drug test test can detect eight different drugs, with five-six types of drugs at a time. This makes this drug testing method as the most potential indicator of adulteration.
  • Experts take saliva drug testing method as the best way to detect the recent use of any prohibited drugs.
  • It can be performed at any location. It does not require a clinical technician to conduct it and read the result.
  • Because of the convenience, easiness and ability to give fast results, saliva drug test is widely used by the employers as pre-employment drug testing. Read more on random drug testing in the workplace.

Disadvantages of Saliva Drug Test

  • Saliva drug testing method is not approved by SAMHSA for use with DOT or Federal Mandated Drug Testing.
  • Saliva, being an oral fluid, is not counted as a biological hazard as long as it does not show the presence of blood in it. Care needs to be taken while handling it, as it might contain pathogenic micro-organisms.
  • The biggest disadvantage of saliva drug testing is its short drug detection time limitation. Most drugs do not remain present in saliva and disappear after 12-24 hours of consumption. This facts limits its usage in drug detection to situations where recent drug ingestion needs to be determined such as in the case of vehicle drivers, employees at work, etc.
  • The above reason also makes it difficult to determine past or long term drug use, as anyone can pass the saliva drug test by not taking the drug for the recent 2-3 days.
  • Saliva drug testing is reliable for the detection of Methamphetamine and Opiates, but comparatively less sensitive to THC and Cannabinoids.
  • It is comparatively more expensive than urine test.
  • Some medicines such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil can give false positive drug tests.
  • Saliva drug test is quite inferior in comparison with hair drug test. The latter not only gives historical information with the types of drugs being taken, but a somewhat accurate data about the quantity and frequency of the drug usage as well.
  • Saliva drug test cannot beat the efficiency of hair drug testing. When the hair follicles receive the drug metabolites dissolved in blood, they tend to trap them within. This is the most reliable source of information about drug addiction.
  • Saliva drug testing does not follow any nationally accepted standards or cutoff concentration for detection. Therefore, the results mainly depend on a particular product purchased. Hence, the result is less reliable and most of the times not accepted in legal proceedings.
  • One can easily pass the saliva drug test by various ways. According to various websites giving information on “how to beat a drug test”, eating certain foodstuffs can alter the production of saliva. Smoking is also believed to mask the metabolites needed for drug determination. However, the best way of passing a drug test is to stay away from drugs themselves.

Hopefully, this article must have provided vital answers to some saliva drug test FAQs, that you might be having and has shed some light on the lesser known saliva drug test facts.

24 responses to Saliva Drug Test Facts

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