Drug and Alcohol Testing

Drug Test

A drug test is a scientific examination of a biological sample like urine, hair, blood, sweat, or oral fluid/saliva to establish the existence or absence of particular parent drugs or their metabolites. Deborah et al, (1998)stated that “one of the significance of drug test is testing for the presence of substance and detecting that encourages steroids in sports or drugs prohibited by laws, like heroin, cocaine and cannabis”(p. 32).

Urine Drug Screen

When an employer demands for a drug test from a worker the employee is characteristically informed to go to a gathering site. The employee’s urine is taken at an isolated position in a particularly designed protected cup, conserved with a tamper opposed to tape, and sent by means of express liberation service to a laboratory that is used in testing to monitored drugs.

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The first stage at the testing site is to divide the urine into two separate aliquots. The first is used to test for drugs with the use of an analyzer that performs immunoassay for preliminary screening.

If the urine screen indicate positive, then a different portion of the sample is used to verify the presence of drugs using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) methodology (Lennart, 1991). All the test results are transferred to an MRO for extra and appropriate medical reviews on the collected results. If the result of the screen indicates negative, the MRO reveals that the worker has no plain drug to detect the presence of urine.

Thomas and Ulrike (2008) also explained that “the test result of the immunoassay and GC-MS are non-negative and confirm a concentration level of parent drug or metabolite above the well-known boundary, the MRO contacts the worker and to decide if there is any genuine reason for medical treatment or recommendation” (p. 6).

On-site direct drug testing is getting more extensively used in states permitting it as a more cost-efficient technique of efficiently identifying drug abuse that exist among employees, as well as in treatment programs to scrutinize patient evolution. Deborah and Joseph (1998) explained that these instantaneous tests can be used for both urine and saliva testing (p. 19).

Though the exactness of such tests depends on the manufacturer, some kits possess enormously high rates of correctness, associating directly with laboratory test results. Jim (2006) explained “about 5% of all the pre-employment urine samples tested positive for drugs”(p. 14). The effects are much higher for post-accident and logical suspicion test.

Hair Testing

Analysis of hair samples has numerous rewards as an introductory screening method to test for the existence of drugs. The significance of hair testing include the non-invasiveness, reduced cost as well as ability to resolve a great number of possibly interrelated, toxic and physically essential elements. Particularly in the United States hair testing is becoming more and more useful for employers to test employees for possible prohibited drug use (Cathryn and John, 1989, p. 49).

Testing for the presence of both FAEE and ETG levels have been used in UK courts and hair testing for alcohol makers is now conventional in both the UK and US legal systems. There are strategies for hair testing that have been made available by the Society of Hair Testing that identifies the markers to be tested for and the cut-off concentrations that require testing.


Effective differentiating between other drugs consumed and alcohol, alcohol is not set down directly in the hair. The method used in this test ensures that the test procedure directs and generates products of ethanol metabolism. The most important part of alcohol is oxidized in the human body and it is given out as water and carbon dioxide, and this reacts with fatty acids to generate esters. Mireille (2003) explained that the amounts of the reflection of four of these fatty acid ethyl esters are useful in the indication of the alcohol use (p. 19).

Hatala (2003) stated that “the quantity found in hair is calculated and measured in nanograms though with the advantage of modern technology, it is likely to detect even very small amounts” (p. 43). In the testing of Ethyl Glucuronide, or EtG, testing can detect amounts in picograms.

Conversely, a significant difference exists between most drugs and alcohol metabolites as explained by Jim (2006) “in the way that they go through the hair, also, other drugs like FAEEs go straight into the hair through the keratinocytes, and this is the cell that is responsible for hair growth”(p. 43).

Mireille (2003) also explained that, “these cells structure the hair in the root and then grow through the skin exterior taking any essential materials along with them” (p. 22). As a result, the sebaceous glands secrete a substance in the scalp and then flow together with the sebum along the hair shaft (Jim, 2006, p. 14).

Drug Testing Methodologies

Various kinds of drug tests come in different ways. Before a sample is tested, the tamper-evident seal is tested for consistency. If it emerges to have been interfered with or was injured during transportation, the laboratory will reject the sample and will not test it. Johnathan (2008) explained that, “one of the first steps for all drug testing is to make the sample to attain a testable state” (p. 45). Urine and oral liquid can be used for some tests, but other tests necessitate the drugs to be removed from urine earlier.

Threads of hair, scraps as well as blood must be organized before testing. Jim (2006) said that “the purpose of washing hair and keeping it clean is to get rid of second-hand sources of drugs on the external surface of the hair, after which the keratin is broken down with the use of enzymes”(p. 3). Sweat scraps are opened up and the sweat compilation element is drenched in a flush to break up any drugs available.

Laboratory-based drug testing is performed in such a way that it makes use of two different types of testing methods. The first is identified as the screening test, and this is functional to all illustration that passes through the laboratory.

The second is known as the confirmation test, which is only useful to samples that test positive throughout the screening test. Johnathan (2008) asserts that “screening tests are naturally executed by immunoassay (EMIT, ELISA, and RIA are the most common)” (p. 16). A measuring stick drug testing method that could at some prospective point provide screening test potential to field investigators has been developed.

After testing the positive sample, the sample is made standard and tested again by the confirmation test. Negative samples are screened, thrown away and described as negative.

The confirmation test in most laboratories is conducted via a mass spectrometry, and is enormously accurate but also moderately costly to run (Mireille, 2003, p. 35). False positive samples gotten from the screening test will be harmful on the verification test. Samples testing positive throughout both screening and confirmation tests are described as positive to the body that regimented the test.

A lot of laboratories save positive samples for some period of months or years in the occurrence of a doubtful result or court proceedings. During testing in a work environment, a positive result is usually not recognized without a reassessing the product by a Medical Review Officer that will question the subject of the drug test.

Drug Testing Methods

Urine Drug Testing

Urine drug test kits are accessible as on-sight tests, or laboratory analysis. Mireille (2003) asserts that “urinalysis is the most common test type and it is used by federally authorized drug testing programs that are considered as gold standard of drug testing” (p. 43).

Urine based tests have been maintained in most courts for over 30 years, though, urinalysis conducted by the department of defence has been questioned for consistency of testing the metabolic nature of cocaine. However, Johnathan (2008) explains that “there exist two connected metabolites of cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BZ) and ecgonine methyl ester (EME), the first (BZ) is produced by the existence of cocaine in an aqeous solution with a pH greater than 7.0, while the second (EME) is generated the actual human metabolic process” (p. 47).

The existence of EME verifies genuine intake of cocaine by a human being, while the existence of BZ is suggestive only. Oral fluid is not measured as a bio-hazard except there is observable blood, though; it should be handled with extreme care (Thomas and Ulrike, 2008, p. 46).

Spray (Sweat) Drug Testing

Spray (sweat) drug test outfits are non-insidious. It is very simple to collect the specimen that no bathroom will be required for collecting the specimen. The detection window is extended and can typically detect drug use up for a number of late. These drug tests are comparatively tamper proof since they are very difficult to influence and it usually does not require a laboratory for analysis.

Mireille (2003) stated that huge differences of sweat assembly rates of potential donors make some results questionable. There is not much assortment in the drug tests since they are not as well-liked as urine or saliva drug testing kits (p. 42). Their prices are normally higher for every test performed. One major drawback of this testing method is the inadequate amount of drugs that can be distinguished, and the capability to create instant results.

Hair Drug Testing

Hair drug testing is capable of detecting drug use over a very long period of time and it is often used for highly safety significant positions where there is zero acceptance of drug usage. Standard hair follicle screen extends to a period of 30-90 days. The growth of hair is typically at the rate of 0.5 inches per month. If the hair on the head is not available, body hair can be used as a suitable alternative (Miller et al., 2009, p. 34).

Even if the person being tested has a bald head, hair can also be collected from roughly any other part of the body like facial hair, the underarms, arms, and legs. However, it is always claimed that hair test cannot be interfered with, it has been made known that this is basically incorrect. For instance, THC does not voluntarily put down inside epithelial cells so it is likely for superficial and other forms of defilement to lessen the amount of testable cannabinoids that exists in a hair sample.

Legal, Ethics and politics of Mandatory Drug Testing

Drug testing is likely to detect cannabis users, since THC metabolites are fat dissolvers and have the ability to stay longer in the body than those other drugs that are broadly measured as very dangerous like cocaine and heroin. Thomas and Ulrike (2008) explained that this can help direct possible cannabis users to switch to drugs that are less harder, most of which normally have considerably shorter detection period or are less expected to be tested for (p. 24).

It has also been observed that regular medical tests are prone to errors of the same type that intimidate the correctness of drug tests, but medical tests are neither accidental nor obligatory, and are typically performed in test boards that provide the physician with a number of results to infer together, with abnormal combinations normally resulting in retesting and a hunt for other supporting verification. Also, drug tests are not parts of such panes, and other verification is often not obtainable.


Drugs and alcohol testing are forms of medical testing that can be used to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in one form or the other in the body. Therefore, it is very important that that drug testing is carefully performed so as to arrive at the exact or correct test.


Cathryn, J. & John, S. G. (1989), The Constitutionality of Drug Testing at the Bail Stage, 80, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), pp. 114–176

Deborah, F. C. & Joseph, G. R. (1988), A Critical Review of the Assumptions Underlying Drug Testing, 3, Journal of Business and Psychology, pp. 22–41

Lennart, E. H. (1991). The Unconvincing Case for Drug Testing, 17, Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques, pp. 183–196

Hatala, J. W. (2003). The Feasibility of Testing Hair for Illicit Drug Use in the United States Marine Corps. Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School. pp. 2. Retrieved October 13, 2010 from http://www.usna.edu/IR/htmls/lead/database/cohort6/c06_hatala.pdf.

Jim, B. ( 2006). “A Little Dab Will Do It”. LASNews (University of Illinois). Retrieved October 13, 2010 from http://web.archive.org/web/20070129082943/http://www.las.uiuc.edu/news/2006fall/06n ov_dipstick.html.

Johnathan, C. J. (2008). Legal Q&A: Alcohol and Drug Testing. Retrieved October 12, 2010 from http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2008/04/23/45561/legal-q.html

Mireille, J. (2003). Drug Testing in the Trucking Industry: The Effect on Highway Safety, 46, Journal of Law and Economics, pp. 131–156

Miller, N. S., Giannini, A. J., Gold, M. S. & Philomena, J. A. (2009).Drug testing: Medical, legal and ethical issues. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.7 (4):239-244,1990. PMID 2290186.

Thomas, R. S. & Ulrike, Z. (2008). On the Wisdom of Mandatory Drug Testing, 7. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, pp. 542–547


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