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Published Wednesday, 29th April 2015

An Instant Drug and Alcohol Test is performed when a biological sample such as blood, urine, saliva or breath is collected and analysed.  Instant sample kits take from a few seconds up to 5 minutes to develop and will detect the presence or absence of drugs and alcohol or their metabolites in the sample collected.  Metabolites are the intermediates and products of metabolism and are also tested because their detection windows are longer that the drugs themselves.

The presence of certain substances or their metabolites indicates consumption the substance and therefore, if a worker is a risk to themselves or their workplace.

Popular instant drug testing kits collect and analyse samples of saliva and/or urine.  Saliva is collected from an applicant’s mouth using a swab and the result panel is checked within 4 minutes of collection.  Urine is collected in a small container and analysis can take up to 5 minutes.  Alcohol testing is done using a breath alcohol testing device. It is important that this device meets Australian Standards for breath alcohol devices to ensure validity of the results.

So which is better?  Urine or Saliva?

The answer to that question is usually stipulated in your company’s Drug And Alcohol Policy.  However, if your company does not have a Drug And Alcohol Policy, then any good Occupational Health Provider will be able to assist you in creating your own.  Your decision about whether to sample urine or saliva will be made based on price and which substances and their metabolites you would like to be tested (see table below).

What happens if a substance or its metabolite is detected?  If a substance or its metabolite is detected then the sample collected is sent to a laboratory for further testing.  This is called confirmation and will take a further 24 to 48 hours.

Confirmation determines the actual level of a drug or its metabolites in the biological sample collected and indicates whether the consumption of the drug has been therapeutic or recreational.  For therapeutic consumption (e.g. prescription medication) of a drug, a worker may still be considered safe to enter the workplace provided there are no contraindications associated with this medication.  However, for recreational consumption (e.g. un-prescribed medication or illicit drugs) of a substance, a worker will not be considered safe to enter the workplace due to potential side effects of the medication.

Overall, all Instant Drug And Alcohol Testing kits are very effective in detecting the presence of certain substances or their metabolites irrespective of whether they analyse urine or saliva.

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