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Guest Post: The Ins and Outs of Drug Testing

A drug testing program

Laboratory (Photo credit: tk-link)

can be an important part of a company, school or drug rehabilitation center’s policy. Some parents have even taken it upon themselves to initiate drug testing in their own homes in the interest of keeping their children drug free.

And while most drug testing programs use the urine drug testing method, there are other ways of testing for substance abuse. We will look at the three most common drug testing methods and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Instant drug tests and lab drug tests

 

All drug testing falls into one of these two categories.

 

Instant tests, as the name implies, can be done on the spot and give you instant results in just a few simple steps.

 

For laboratory testing, you of course have to go to a laboratory where the tests are performed with sophisticated equipment. Samples can be collected either at the laboratory or collected off site and taken to the lab for testing.

 

Drug testing programs in business or institutional environments will usually include a two step process that includes both instant and laboratory tests. An instant test will be performed initially and if that returns a positive result, a follow up test on the sample will be performed at a laboratory. These lab tests are important because instant test results aren’t admissible in court. If the test result is to be used for a legal matter, such as termination of employment, for example, the sample must be laboratory tested for confirmation purposes.

 

The obvious advantage of instant drug testing is that it gives you instant results. The instant drug testing kits are also inexpensive compared to booking laboratory time for drug testing. With many kits, it’s also possible to test for multiple drugs at the same time. Some of them can even test for over a dozen drugs that include all the common street drugs, plus prescription drugs.

 

As for disadvantages, aside from the fact that the results are not admissible in court, another knock on instant drug tests is that they do give the occasional false positive reading. Even worse, they also give the occasional false negative reading.

 

On the laboratory side, the advantages are that the testing is handled by professionals and the results can be used in court, as they confirm the presence of drugs. The expense, plus the time it takes to get results, which ranges from hours to weeks, are disadvantages to laboratory testing.

 

By combining instant drug testing and laboratory testing, costs can be kept down by primarily using the instant tests and only sending the samples that give a positive result away for laboratory confirmation.

 

Different Types of drug testing

 

Although you may occasionally see blood and sweat referenced in terms of drug testing, and both those bodily fluids can be used, the three most common ways of drug testing are by using samples of urine, saliva or hair.

 

It is possible to use an instant testing kit when using urine or saliva to drug test. With these kits, you can collect a sample anywhere (you’ll need a private place for urine, obviously) and test the substances right on the spot. Or, you can collect the samples and have them sent away to a laboratory for testing.

 

Hair testing cannot be done instantly. Hair samples can be collected any place, but the actual testing will have to be done at a laboratory.

 

Urine

 

As far as the most common way to drug test, urine reigns supreme. It’s used in the majority of employment testing, pre-employment screening, military and sports drug testing.

 

Depending on the type of drug and other factors like a person’s body composition, urine tests can detect drugs in a person’s system from a few hours after they’ve ingested them until about a week afterward, maybe a bit longer.

 

The instant urine drug tests require a person to give a sample of a certain size and then seeing how that urine reacts with specific chemicals meant to detect drug metabolites.

 

Tests come in different formats like testing strips, where you dip the strip into the urine, or testing cassettes where you have to transfer some of the urine onto the cassette. A popular instant urine test for obvious reasons is the all-on-one cups where you get the sample donor to fill a cup and you put a lid on the cup and push a button to enact the test, never needing to actually interact with the liquid.

 

Laboratory urine tests will involve doing an instant drug test (known as immunoassay tests) and if the results are positive, running a more sophisticated (and expensive) test that usually involve gas chromatography–mass spectrometry or a similar type of test.

 

Obviously the advantages are that this type of testing can be done quickly and relatively inexpensively, plus, because it’s the most common type of drug testing, most people are familiar with it already.

 

The disadvantages of urine testing are that the sample collection can’t quite be done anywhere. The collection process is also a bit invasive. In some organizations like the military, sample collection must be watched.

 

And urine tests can be cheated. Some common forms of cheating include:

 

  • swapping in someone else’s clean urine,
  • drinking excessive amounts of water or other liquids to dilute the sample, and
  • adding a foreign substance (salt, vinegar, bleach etc.) to the sample.

 

Fortunately, these types of cheating can be easily thwarted. Temperature strips can detect when urine isn’t body temperature, which a fresh sample would be. Also, observation of the sample collection prevents swapping. Many tests can detect watered down samples and properly trained testing technicians will be able to spot a diluted sample, not to mention that most drugs aren’t water soluble so this won’t help people cheat in a lot of cases anyway. Many modern instant tests are also equipped to detect adulterated samples, as well as the aforementioned properly trained drug testing technicians. Laboratories will have safeguards in place to detect cheating.

 

Saliva

 

Often referred to as oral fluid tests, they involve taking a swab of fluid from the mouth of the sample donor. The results are available instantly and these tests can detect drug use from about an hour after usage to a few days after usage depending on the type of drug.

 

The relatively short period of detection is one of their disadvantages.

 

However, a clear advantage is that the collection process for saliva testing can be done anywhere and can be observed without privacy concerns.

 

As far as cheating, it has been noted that gum and cigarettes can interfere with the results of these tests, so precautions have to be taken to ensure no gum is chewed or cigarettes smoked immediately prior to the test.

 

Hair

 

Hair testing involves cutting several dozen strands of hair from a person’s head or body and sending them to a laboratory for testing (the sample collection can also be done in some labs). Short hair is perfectly fine to use and, as mentioned, body hair can also be used. And while cutting off a person’s hair is obviously somewhat invasive, the hair is cut from the back of the head from a few different spots so as to not be obvious.

 

In the lab, the hair will be liquified and then split into its various components to check for drug metabolites. A huge advantage for hair testing is that it can check for drug use as far back as three months prior to the date of the test. And, not only can it detect the type of drug used, but also how frequently it was used.

 

Another huge advantage is that it is impossible to cheat. The internet is full of “advice” for people on how to cheat a hair drug test, but no shampoo, dye or bleach can change the molecular makeup of the hair, which is what the tests look at.

 

However, aside from the aforementioned invasiveness, hair testing has other disadvantages. It’s more expensive than either urine or saliva testing, there is no instant option and drug metabolites won’t show up in hair until about a week after usage. So, for example, if a person used cocaine on Tuesday and a hair sample was taken from them the following Thursday, the cocaine usage from two days beforehand would not be detected.

 

Whether used in a professional environment or in the home, drug testing can help keep employees, students, children, athletes and others free from the harmful effects of drugs. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and which one is best for any given situation will depend on cost and other factors.

 

About Our Guest Blogger: Lena Butler

Lena Butler is a health blogger and customer service representative for TestCountry, a San Diego based point of service diagnostic test service provider that offers a wide range of laboratory and instant drug and general health testing kits. You can follow Test Country on Twitter and on Facebook. Follow Lena on Twitter as well!

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Addiction Guest Blogs Recovery

Is Your Teen Taking Drugs?

Is Your Teen Taking Drugs? Follow This 4 Step Action Plan

Guest post by Rosy Cooper of Future Expectations Today

In a survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the US has a higher number of teen substance-abuse cases in comparison to many other countries. These results can be frightening for the parents of teens, especially those whose age is between 10 to 19 years.

When you discover that your teen is struggling from drug addiction or abuse, you may have a difficult time with your own emotions, anger and feelings. This is the biggest mistake most parents make. Regardless of how critical your teen’s case seems, recovery is feasible with the help of the right support and treatment.

Here is a 5-step action guide to follow to help your teen overcome the drug abuse or addiction:

 1.      Emotional Nurturing

This is one of the most effective factors in drug abuse treatment for adolescents. Take a step forward and reach out to the root cause of the problem and always let your teen know you’re with them until they start loving themselves again.

Remember, it’s not a piece of cake to recover from serious substance abuse. The path is long and challenging. Your teen requires space, time, motivation, commitment and support throughout their recovery.

 2.     Explore Different Treatment Options

Now it’s time to look for the treatment options available in your country.

One of the most important things to consider when you search for treatment is there is no single treatment for all drug addicts. For example, an adult facility wouldn’t work for your teen. Look for an exclusive teen rehabilitation center that best suits your child’s needs and conditions.

Often, drug addict suffer from psychological disorders, which means you need to find a dual-diagnosis treatment center where your teen can get both mental health and drug addiction treatment.

 3.     Don’t Hesitate in Asking For Support

You need support too!  You may share your problems with friends, relatives and other reliable people in your life. Because addiction is a family problem, treatment facilities will also provide family groups, as well as offer support groups. Having supportive resources will provide you with the support you need while also supporting your teen’s recovery process.

 4.     Keep Them Engaged

The best teen drug rehabs, camps or schools follow this concept as a helpful tool for recovering addicts. They organize various fun activities like hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, picnicking, et cetera, to keep struggling teens engaged and to teach social skills while also showing them they can have fun without drugs and alcohol.

These rehab centers or camps may also take troubled teens to various places, so they can experience a diversity of culture and nature. Many studies show that a positive environment, friendliness and healthy activities (both physical and intellectual) play a crucial role in the recovery of adolescents.

The road to recovery is challenging, but the right road map can certainly help your teen on the battlefield of his or her life.

Author Bio: Rosy works for a trust based teen rehabilitation center. She often writes about prevention methods, signs and various treatment methods of teen drug addicts in many health magazines and online blogs. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Addiction Dual Diagnosis Guest Blogs Mental Health

Dual Diagnosis and Teens: What to Know

Guest blog by Recovery Rob from the Pat Moore Foundation

The combination of substance abuse and forms of mental illness are common. In fact, it’s what most clinicians, therapist, and counselors often expect to find when one diagnosis is confirmed. According to the NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness) more than

half of all adolescents with substance abuse issues also have a diagnosable mental illness. These diagnosable mental illnesses consist of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Depression, and Bipolar Disorder. Unfortunately, history has not shown treatment for both at the same time. Typically a teenager who is in treatment for substance abuse is not referred out to a qualified mental health professional to discover a source of their drug and alcohol abuse. Self-medicating with alcohol and illegal drugs is prevalent when there is a mental health issue.

Over the years, the psychiatric and drug counseling communities have begun working together, agreeing that both of these disorders must be treated at the same time. Often with one diagnosis you have the other. With a dual diagnosis it’s been found that suicide attempts and psychotic episodes decrease rather quickly. Treatments consist primarily, but not exclusively to 12-Step programs. However, special peer groups that focus on treating both the illness and substance abuse are found to strengthen social networks.

Adolescents often seek acceptance, and support each other as they learn the role alcohol and drugs have taken in their lives so far. Learning, and in some cases re-learning, social skills will help replace self-medication with patterns of healthful and helpful behaviors.

In order to discover the presence of a confirmable dual diagnosis, one must seek a professional assessment from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Once the dual diagnosis has been established confirmed, then family members and mental health professionals are urged to work together to seek a strategy that works best for the adolescent.

Here are five tips on what to do if your adolescent has a substance abuse disorder.

  • Your teen is NOT a disgrace to the family.
  • Establish consequences for behaviors, and don’t be afraid to call upon law enforcement if your child is drinking on your property.
  • Don’t threaten unless you plan to follow through. Typically a parent surrenders and their addicted child learns their parent doesn’t mean what they say.
  • Try not to nag or lecture.
  • And, if your teenager is seeking and working at his or her recovery you should offer support, love and encouragement.

BIO:

Recovery Rob is a 47-year-old man who has more than nineteen years of sobriety, whose drugs of choice at one time were alcohol and drugs, and he has worked in and around the field of addiction for more than 20 years. Recovery Rob is a professional writer who has published two novels and is currently working on his third. He has been writing and working as Pat Moore Foundation’s premiere blogger and content writer, which helps keeps Pat Moore Foundation’s addiction and recovery blog top-rated.

You can also follow Recovery Rob on Twitter!

Categories
Guest Blogs Mental Health Recovery Suicide

Guest Blogging in the Recovery Community

I was recently asked to participate in Pat Moore Foundation’s Guest Blogging program. What an honor! It’s wonderful to be a part of a blogging community that not only supports other recovery bloggers but is willing to join forces with them. The blog I wrote is called “Obscure Thoughts of Suicide are Still Thoughts of Suicide” and addresses suicide and addiction from a more introspective and personal perspective. I wrote it on the heals of one of our more recent blogs entitled “Suicide, Neither an Answer nor a Solution.” With the onslaught of bullying and teen suicides, It’s important we pay closer attention to the subtle signs so we can offer help and solutions. It doesn’t feel good to suffer from suicidal ideation. It’s scary and it’s lonely. We as parents, friends, teachers, counselors, therapists, and doctors can help—one active-listening moment at a time.

Check out the guest blog from Rob Grant aka Recovery Rob on Twitter as well as the wonderful write-up he did about it. He has almost two decades of recovery and writes regularly for the Pat Moore Foundation. He is essentially, the “me” of the Pat Moore Foundation.  You can also see some of his blogs here.