Drug and Alcohol Screening Test: What Is Detected?
15 August, 2023
A drug and alcohol screening test can detect the presence of illegal substances and alcohol in the body. Different methods can identify multiple types of drug and alcohol use. However, it depends on the substance, the amount taken, and the number of panels in the test kit. Home drug test kits can recognise commonly abused drugs like marijuana (THC), opioids, PCP, cocaine, and amphetamines. Meanwhile, a breathalyser device can measure a person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level.
Abusing drugs and alcohol can seriously harm a person’s health. It can make them unable to function properly. Additionally, it can cause permanent damage to an individual’s vital organs like the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, various environments like workplaces should keep an eye on substance use. This article will present various screening methods, the substances they can detect, and when their uses and applications.
What Can a Drug and Alcohol Screening Test Detect
A drug and alcohol screening test can detect different types of drugs, including when people misuse prescription medication. These drugs usually fall into categories like depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotics, inhalants, and cannabis. They can affect people’s central nervous system, making it hard for their bodies to function normally. In addition, these drugs have a high risk of causing addiction.
Depressant drugs decrease the activity of the nervous system, causing the brain to function more slowly and reducing inhibitions. They can make a person feel confused, experience vision problems, and feel sluggish. Examples of depressants include alcohol, benzodiazepines, and anti-anxiety tranquilizers. On the other hand, stimulant drugs speed up brain function, making people more alert. Examples of stimulants include amphetamines, caffeine, and cocaine.
Furthermore, hallucinogens change how a person thinks, feels, and sees things. Additionally, dissociative anesthetics make an individual feel separated from their bodies. Moreover, narcotic analgesics alleviate pain and induce feelings of euphoria. Some people increase their drug intake to experience more intense effects. To prevent these risks, a screening test can check if there are exposures to these substances.
Long-term Effects of Substance Abuse
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities persist over time.
- Tiredness and lack of energy continue for an extended period, making daily tasks challenging.
- Sleep patterns are constantly disrupted, making it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or have a restful sleep.
- Cognitive function, including memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities, gradually decline.
- Regularly experiencing intense fear, anxiety, and panic, often accompanied by physical symptoms.
- The heart suffers damage, increasing the risk of heart failure and various cardiovascular complications.
- The kidneys sustain lasting harm, affecting their ability to filter waste and regulate fluid balance.
Methods for Drug and Alcohol Screening Tests
Companies and medical facilities employ various methods to detect the presence of drugs and alcohol in individuals. These methods include analyzing urine, saliva, hair, or blood analysis for drugs and breath tests for alcohol. When these substances are consumed, they enter the body’s organs through the bloodstream and remain there for a limited period. Therefore, body fluids and other specimens are useful for detecting drugs and alcohol.
Rapid test kits like urine sample cups or oral swab sticks use immunoassays to find substances in the body. They can check for different drugs, with more panels giving a more complete screening. Companies in safety-critical industries may use drug test kits with multiple panels. However, these tests cannot measure the amount of drugs. Therefore, the initial results need confirmation through further analysis in a laboratory.
A hair follicle test can provide a longer detection window compared to other methods. Moreover, a breath test uses a breathalyser to measure a person’s BAC level. Lastly, a blood test offers high accuracy among all drug and alcohol screening test procedures. Hence, healthcare professionals often utilise this method for confirmatory testing purposes.
Factors that May Impact Test Results
The timing of substance use and when the test is taken can impact the screening results. Various substances can be found in the body for different durations. Additionally, certain prescribed medications can have similar chemical properties to illegal drugs. As a result, they might lead to a false positive outcome.
Moreover, metabolic rate can also impact test results. The speed of an individual’s metabolism determines how long a substance can be detected. Another important factor to consider, especially in urine tests, is tampering. This happens when individuals attempt to manipulate the test results by swapping their urine samples.
When to Enforce Drug and Alcohol Screening Tests
Drug and alcohol screen tests are enforced in various situations, such as during roadside inspections by law enforcement. Police officers administer a mouth swab test on drivers to check for drugs. Similarly, they use a breathalyser to determine if a person’s BAC level exceeds the legal alcohol limit. Having any amount of drugs or a high alcohol content can lead to legal charges.
Moreover, the workplace is an important area where substance monitoring is necessary. While employees may not drink or use drugs at work, some may come to work already impaired. It can lead to work disruptions, severe injuries and even deaths. Therefore, many companies have implemented policies to conduct drug and alcohol screening to protect employees.
Furthermore, these tests can be used in sports. They help identify athletes who might be using substances to improve their performance. Thus, sports organisations can maintain integrity and protect the well-being of all participants. It also ensures that every athlete has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Advantages of Workplace Screening Test
A workplace screening test has a positive impact on the workplace. Firstly, it improves employee performance by ensuring that the workforce is free from the negative effects of substance use. Additionally, this test helps reduce legal liabilities. Companies can minimise the risk of accidents, injuries, and potential lawsuits.
On top of that, a workplace screening test reduces employee turnover. It helps employees stay in their jobs, develop loyalty, and reduce the costs of hiring new staff. Also, this test lower healthcare expenses by addressing substance abuse problems. As a result, employers can prevent health issues among their workforce and save revenue for the company.
Drug and alcohol screening tests aid institutions and individuals in reducing risks by identifying existing impairments. These tests can detect different substances that can affect a person. These include commonly abused drugs such as depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Moreover, people may develop a strong tolerance to substances like cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and marijuana due to their pleasurable effects. Nevertheless, prolonged usage can cause significant and lasting harm to vital organs.
Different methods can detect drugs and alcohol, including urine, saliva, breath, and blood sampling. Urine analysis is commonly used because it is reliable and cost-effective. It can detect multiple substances and provide immediate results. Moreover, the breath test is an excellent method for screening alcohol. It involves blowing into a breathalyser mouthpiece to quickly estimate a person’s BAC. People can use a personal breathalyser, like BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand, to monitor their BAC level.