5 Types of Drug Tests and Their Uses

Drug testing has become a common practice worldwide. Besides the usual screening during hiring, many companies and organizations now require their employees to submit to drug testing regularly. This is to ensure that all workers are fit for duty and that no one poses a danger to themselves or others.

So if you’re looking for a job or already have one, you need to know how these tests work to plan accordingly. Understanding the tests and the reasons for the tests will save you from surprises. This blog post explains the purpose of drug tests and the different types of drug tests.

Read on to find out.

Purpose Of The Drug Test

Before we look at common types of drug testing, it is essential to understand why we drug test and what situations require drug testing. One popular scenario in which drug testing is required is pre-employment screening. However, there are many other situations.

Here is an overview:

  • Hospital: if a doctor suspects a patient is abusing drugs, they may require drug testing.
  • Workplace: in the workplace, pre-employment drug screening is common. But that’s not all: in occupations that require a high level of attention, such as road traffic or air traffic control, workers may be subject to drug testing from time to time.
  • Rehab Centers: patients undergoing recovery programs at rehab centers may need to be tested periodically to ensure their sobriety and prevent relapse.
  • Home environment: Although not common, family members may be required to submit to testing to prove they are not using drugs.

Some drug tests can be done at home; others require a lab. If you are in Charlotte, find a reputable drug test charlotte nc for accurate test results.

 5 Common Drug Tests and What They Are Used For

1.   Urine Test

A urine test is a common way to screen for drug use. This test can detect various drugs in your body, including marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, meth, amphetamines, and other common illegal substances.

 A urine sample is collected, tested, and evaluated for metabolites, the byproducts of a drug’s breakdown in the body. If any of these metabolites are present, the test is positive; if no metabolites or trace amounts are found, the test is negative.

There are two types of urine drug tests:

  • Immunoassay: This is a quick and inexpensive method to test for the presence of drugs. However, the test doesn’t detect all opioids and may give false-positive results.
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS): this is an advanced urine test that can be used to check results in case of a false positive. It works like an immunoassay but is more accurate and also more expensive. The results also take longer.

2.   Saliva Test

A saliva test is a convenient drug test that detects drugs in your saliva. Because saliva contains fewer metabolites than urine, it’s more difficult to detect illegal substances in saliva. However, this test can detect drugs like marijuana and cocaine that would also show up in urine.

A sample of your saliva is taken and analyzed for metabolites. The presence or abscess of these metabolites determines the results. Saliva testing is often used in pre-employment drug testing and random drug testing.

3.   Breath Test

A breathalyzer test also called a breath alcohol test, detects the presence of alcohol on your breath. If you’re currently drinking alcohol, you can expect this test to give a positive result. However, if you’ve been clean for a while, it’s unlikely that alcohol will be found on your breath.

In this test, the air is blown through a device that contains alcohol-sensing strips. The strip reacts to the presence of alcohol. If alcohol is present, the result is positive; if no alcohol is found, the test is negative.

Since alcohol is excreted from the body within only one hour, this test is most commonly used for drug testing drivers.

4.   Blood Test

A blood test is another common method of screening for drug use. This test can detect various drugs in your body, including marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, meth, amphetamines, and other common illegal substances.

 A blood sample is taken from the subject and tests against specific criteria. There are a variety of blood tests, and each has a set of criteria that it can detect.

 Since a blood test can also detect substances that have been ingested several days before, this test is more reliable than other drug tests. However, it’s also more invasive and, therefore, more expensive.

5.   Hair Follicle Test

A hair follicle test is the most accurate drug test. It can detect drugs taken up to 90 days ago. This test is used for both recent drug use and long-term drug abuse. It detects the use of drugs such as marijuana, opiates, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

 A small hair sample is taken and analyzed by a machine for specific chemicals. It’s one of the most accurate drug tests but also very expensive.


Drug tests are a common way of checking for drug use in almost all industries. They’re often conducted to ensure the safety and productivity of employees in the workplace. However, it’s essential to know that a positive drug test doesn’t mean that a person is an unsafe worker. They could have used a particular drug in the past but are currently drug-free. Therefore, knowing what drug tests are available and how they are conducted and used is essential.

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