What Are The Common Types of Drug Tests?

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March 2nd, 2021   |   Updated on June 9th, 2023

Are you looking to apply for a new job in a different company? Then there’s a chance that you will have to undergo a drug test. Only 2% of companies in the United States require pre-employment drug tests.

Nevertheless, passing a drug test is something you want to achieve. Thus, you need to know what to expect during a drug test. However, there are many types of drug tests out there.

If you’re wondering how these tests differ from one another, continue reading below for a detailed breakdown. Let us discuss the different kinds of drug tests and what you can expect from each one of them.

Urine Drug Test

Of the different types of drug tests available, the urine test is arguably the most common. It is also affordable, non-invasive, yet accurate.

The idea behind a urine drug test is the analysis of metabolites. These are the intermediate products that come out of the body after it metabolizes all substances that you ingest. These metabolites come out of the body through your urine.

In a urine drug test, they use analytical methods to detect the presence of drugs in your urine. Some of these methods include thin layer chromatography, mass spectrometry, gas spectrometry, and immunoassays.

As for its coverage, a urine test can detect the presence of various kinds of drugs. It can do so even after several days after use. This, of course, varies depending on the amount and type of substance you ingested.

Some of the drugs it can detect include cocaine, marijuana, Ecstasy, opiates, and methamphetamine, to name a few. It can even detect kratom alkaloids. Discover more about kratom and drug tests by clicking the link.

Blood Drug Test

If a urine test is the most expensive and non-invasive option, the blood test is easily its opposite. As the name of the test implies, expect the tester to extract your blood for testing. This means you will have close encounters with a syringe.

Despite its invasive nature, a blood drug test is your best bet if you’re after accuracy. Moreover, it is the fastest in terms of obtaining the test results.

A blood drug test can detect drugs and other substances in your blood right at the time of testing. Furthermore, the test can measure the number of drugs in your bloodstream moments after the test.

The caveat, however, is that the test detects the presence of substances in the blood instead of chemicals that you leave behind. In turn, a blood drug test’s accuracy will only be for a few hours up to a day.

The exception is with THC. This is the active ingredient that you find in marijuana. A blood test can detect THC for up to several weeks after use.

Like the urine test, blood drug tests can also detect opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even nicotine.

Saliva Drug Test

Though urine testing remains the most popular among drug test types, the saliva drug test is emerging as one of today’s favorites. This is mainly because of its less invasive nature.

However, a saliva test may not be the best option if you want comprehensive coverage. Certain studies reveal that saliva tests can only detect cannabinoids if the subject smoked marijuana 4 to 10 hours before the testing.

With saliva testing, all you need to do is to spit some saliva, which the testers will process. However, companies only use the saliva test to determine if an employee is using drugs onsite. This is because of the small window of accuracy that it has.

Generally, you will get the saliva drug test results in 3 to7 days upon receipt of the saliva sample.

Hair Drug Test

Today, only a few companies opt for hair drug tests because of accuracy concerns. The idea behind hair drug testing is that the hair of a user contains drug metabolites. The metabolites enter the blood vessels and find their way into the scalp.

In turn, the metabolite residues will remain in the hair for months. Because a hair drug test can detect remnants of drug metabolites, it cannot measure the current drug use of a person.

This means even if it’s been six months since you smoked marijuana, a hair drug test may find you positive because of the residues in your hair. Furthermore, the process involved in hair drug testing is lengthy. Thus, it is unlikely that you’ll encounter an employer that uses this particular drug test.

Perspiration Drug Test

Lastly, there is the perspiration drug test. This is one of the newer types of drug tests to hit the scene. It uses the subject’s sweat to determine his drug use.

Here, the subject will affix a special patch to the skin for 14 days. The patch then detects the presence of drugs through the subject’s perspiration. Because the results take time, you will rarely see employers using this method.

The Best Types of Drug Tests for Businesses

In case you’re a business owner and you’re wondering which type of drug test options will work best for your pre-employment screening, there are key factors to consider before implementing any drug test. Firstly, you need to determine the requirements for the industry you belong to.

Thus, you need to understand the different types of panel drug testing. This refers to the number of drugs you need to test your applicants or workers for. For example, a 5-panel drug test will look for five different types of drugs.
The number of the panel determines the number of drugs the test will look for. You want to consider the purpose of the drug test. If you want something that tests onsite usage, a saliva test is your best option.

If you employ a strict drug-free policy, you can even go as high as a 12-panel drug test. If you belong to the construction sector, you want your workers to pass a 9-panel drug test.

Learn More About Workplace Safety

By understanding the different types of drug tests, business owners and employees can both work together for a healthier and safer work environment. Owners can better implement drug policies while employees can adhere to the guidelines.

However, keeping the workplace drug-free is only one of the targets you should aim for. Check out our other articles and learn more about workplace safety.

Health Disclaimer :

Information provided by does in no way substitute for qualified medical opinion. Any text, videos or any other material provided by us should be considered as generic information only. Any health related information may vary from person to person, hence we advice you to consult specialists for more information.