Over the past few years there have been major advances in Drug Testing and the use of alternative specimens to blood and urine for establishing exposure to drugs has become widespread.
The alternatives include hair, sweat and oral fluid.
Blood and urine samples have been utilised in the assessment of recent drug use, within 1-3 days.
Samples of blood are considered invasive, and so are less commonly used due to limitations regarding the collection. They are generally used in specific cases, such as in studies or use of alcohol.
In the early days of the analysis of drugs, use of urine samples was the only choice, because of the relative amount of sample obtained and the concentrations detectable by the technology used then.
Urine is still the most commonly used sample for the same reasons, that is the ample amount of sample obtained and the relatively high levels of detectable concentration, which facilitates the analysis laboratory.
Drug testing using oral fluid for recent use
The convenience and ease in collection of oral fluid under observed conditions, together with significant technical advances, has advanced oral fluid testing for drugs of abuse to the point where it is used in some programs as an alternative to urine testing.
Many papers have been published in the scientific publications on oral fluid testing for drugs of abuse, including reviews on drug disposition, detection times, diagnostic uses, legal issues and prevalence rates in comparison with urine testing.
The analysis of drugs of abuse in oral fluid is becoming more widely used and accepted across a number of testing disciplines, particularly because of its simplicity to collect in relation to urine.
Commonly abused and prescribed drugs are detectable in oral fluid.
Sectors that make the most of oral fluid drug testing
Oral fluid testing is now practiced in a variety of settings such as the workplace, drug-treatment centres, health assessments, and in the legal arena.
Periods of drug detection
However, both urine and saliva produce transient spectra of drug use, for a relatively short period reflecting that use occurred hours before sample collection (24-72 hours), whilst drug testing using hair shows what drugs have been used over an extended time-frame of months rather than days.