Drug Testing FAQ
There is a lot of uncertainty and nervousness that goes along with drug testing. Many people do not understand the process, the different types of tests, their rights, or reasons behind drug tests. Really, there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to a drug test unless you have done something wrong. They are usually painless and minimally invasive and take only a few minutes to take. Depending on the drug, several different types of tests can be used.
Drug testing can make almost anybody nervous, even if they have no reason to be. It is a peek into a person’s private life, into their personal self. And sometimes things tend to go wrong, results are misread and misconstrued for some reason or another. We have all heard the stories about the person who ate something with poppy seeds and then later tested positive for opiate use and got into trouble, or overheard somebody trying to scam their way out of getting caught with positive test results. Surely there is a market out there for the people who are trying to fool a test, as any search done on the internet will attest to with thousands of search results. So, what is the big deal about drug testing?
Really, there is nothing to be worried about if you have not done anything wrong. Drug tests for the most part are simple and non invasive. Most focus on collecting some form of body sample. The most common tend to collect urine or saliva. More complicated tests may involve blood or hair collection. The expense a company wants to go to will determine the type of test they will use, and the more expensive test used tends to also be more accurate. Drug and hair tests are virtually infallible and can detect anything in the body for a period of several months. Urine and saliva tests are not as reliable but are still fairly reliable.
How long a substance stays in the body depends on what it is. Drugs like alcohol, which are primarily water based, will remain only for a short duration and are flushed out via the kidneys and liver. A few days and a lot of water ingested will essentially clear out the toxins in the body that are traceable. Marijuana tends to bind to proteins and can be traced in the blood for months as well as in hair and in urine samples for a period of several weeks after use, especially for frequent users. Cocaine tends to eliminate itself a little quicker from the body, as does heroin and MDMA, but all of these drugs remain in hair for a long time. It is not possible to ‘clean out’ hair or blood, so picky employers may choose these methods which tend to be harder to fool.
There is a market out there for products to fool drug tests. If they work, or if home concoctions and recipes that can be found on the internet or in books work, is not guaranteed. But often these leave behind a residue which may also show up on a drug test to the detriment of the testee. Keep that in mind. Some employers have gotten wiser and even though drug tests have become more refined, may require more than one type of test. They might ask for a combination of blood and a hair sample, or saliva and blood, or anything, in case one possible route of testing has been altered. And to refuse one test type while willfully submitting to another looks very suspicious.
When going for a test of any sort, please remember to take any prescription medications along. You may be prescribed something that is a controlled substance, such as Xanax, that might set off something in the drug test. The testing place needs to be aware of any medications you are taking and it helps if they can see that you are legally prescribed something that might otherwise be considered a controlled substance. Pain medications will show up on a drug test and you do not want them to think you are taking heroin! Avoid any confusion and mishaps to this effect. And it is acceptable to ask questions regarding your medications. The internet can also be a great source, but don’t take everything at full value.