Quick & Dirty Guide to Drug Testing Specimen Options
We get asked all the time, “What’s the best way to do drug testing?” The answer is, there isn’t one! The best drug testing specimen options always vary case by case. For as many types of drug testing scenarios there are, there are nearly as many specimen options! Let’s weigh the pros and cons of urine, hair follicle, saliva and blood testing options to determine the best test for your needs.
Urine Drug Testing
Urine drug testing is the most popular sample specimen, owed mostly to the fact that it’s inexpensive for the lab to test, it’s easy for practically everyone to provide, and it’s fast! Rapid testing is available with this specimen, which means results can be obtained within five minutes. Urine testing also tests the widest variety of drugs, and can discover recent use. The DOT (Department of Transportation) approves urine as a testing sample, and federal approval carries weight.
Of course, the fact that urine drug testing is such a popular method, it means more people have figured out ways to try and fool the test. Specimen collection can be manipulated through multiple means, particularly because collections cannot always monitored. Also, many employees view this sample collection as invasive, or just plain “gross,” despite that it’s a sterile sample.
At Cover-Tek always follow the DOT guidelines for collections on every test. Identification is required, restroom water supplies are secured, sample temperatures are verified, we check pockets, jackets, hats, and a few other places before the donor is allowed to enter the restroom.
Hair Follicle Testing
Hair follicle testing is a great method for providing a more comprehensive history of drug-free behavior. It provides a 30-day drug history for each half inch of hair that’s tested. That means that the standard hair sample size of 1.5 inches gives results for the past 90 days. Because it can provide such an accurate history, hair follicle testing is very popular in child custody cases.
Unfortunately, hair follicle testing has its disadvantages. it can be difficult to obtain enough hair on people who decide to cut or shave off hair to avoid providing an adequate sample. Women, in particular, can be resistant to the idea of cutting their hair. Though hair follicle testing can provide a lengthy history of drug history, the number of drugs that can be screened is limited. Hair follicle quick tests aren’t available, because all samples must be sent to a lab. As of right now, meaning the time we wrote this post, hair follicle testing isn’t an approved method under DOT regulations.
Just like urine, everyone has saliva! It’s also a simple process to provide a sample. The collection can be supervised, which makes this test more difficult to manipulate. This test detects recent drug use of up to 48 hours, and up to 10 drugs can be screened for.
Although it’s difficult to cheat this test, unwilling donors can chew on the test strip to destroy it. Of course, the collector can generally identify this fairly easily, and the donor will be charged for a second test strip. Employers may also consider that a refusal – which is considered a positive. Saliva testing, though as accurate as urine testing, isn’t approved for federal testing. This is a newer testing option, so that will likely change.
Blood Drug Testing
If you’re looking for a testing method that simply cannot be manipulated, blood sample testing is the way to go. It can’t be beat, and a wide variety of drugs can be tested.
The price you pay for accuracy is higher, as this is the most expensive and invasive method of testing. You must have a trained technician to obtain the blood sample. Most employers shy away from blood testing for these reasons.
So there you have it, our quick and dirty guide to drug testing specimen options. Another great resource to check out if you’re ready to learn even more about workplace drug testing is HireRight’s Detecting Drug Use in the Workforce guide. Or, just contact CoverTek, and we’ll help you figure out the best fit for your needs. We can even help you figure out your workplace testing policy and train your staff to identify potential drug issues.