Common Drug Testing Questions
April 2, 2022
How Soon can Drugs be Detected in Urine?
April 25, 2022

Which type of drug test should I use?



When it comes to drug testing your employees, your options go beyond choosing which drugs to test for. How you decide to test is a key factor as well. There are three main types of drug tests:

 Urine, which is by far the most prevalent, with 90 percent of employers using it.
 Saliva, used by 10 percent of employers.
 Hair, used by 7 percent of employers.

Each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. As an employer, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each type of test to decide which one is ideal for your business. Luckily, we can help make that decision easier for you.

Urine testing

A urinalysis is currently the only approved drug-testing method for workplaces covered by federal guidelines. It's easy to collect the specimen, which can be screened for many illicit drugs as well as prescription medications.

While urine tests are not 100% infallible, several safeguards exist to ensure the integrity of the results. The temperature of the specimen is read during the collection to ensure the urine is not too cool nor too warm to be authentic. Moreover, the lab ensures that it is of the appropriate pH and creatine levels. Urine testing is your ideal option for screening prospective employees.

Saliva testing

Oral fluid testing can be collected immediately onsite, which makes it more efficient and reduces the amount of time and cost for collection. The test can detect drug use that has been extremely recent whereas urine tests require the drugs to have passed through your system to be able to identify them.

Unfortunately, saliva testing has the shortest time span for detection. A prime example is THC, which has a detection span of 8 to 12 hours. Other substances such as cocaine and heroin will show traces for up to 48 hours.

Hair testing

Drug-testing hair is a simple and non-invasive way to detect drug use over a greater length of time, most effective when testing for regular use of drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates. These drugs can become undetectable in urine after three to four days.

Around 100 strands of hair are taken from as close to the scalp as possible, then the hair is placed in a foil package and sent to a lab. If the donor does not have hair on their head, a sample can instead be taken from their face, armpit or back. The collector is present during the entire process, which makes fabrication or substitution of the specimen nearly impossible.