Substance Use

What is a Drug Screen? Types of Drug Tests

drug test report

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

Drug Testing Methods and Seeking Help

A drug screen, also called a drug test, detects specific substances in your system. It can also determine if someone is misusing prescription or illegal drugs.

Even after you stop using, a drug screening test can determine what drug you used and how much you used up to a year after using it. The method of collection determines how far back the test can detect substance use.

Are you or someone you know failing drug tests despite telling others that you aren’t using drugs? If you are ready to stop using and turn your life around, Zinnia Healing can help. We understand how hard it is to stop on your own and the difficulty of withdrawing without support.

Call us at (855) 430-9439 to begin your journey to a drug-free future.

What Are Drug Tests Used For?

Drug screenings are typically used for:

  • Screening athletes for performance-enhancing drugs
  • Determining if someone is fit to stand trial
  • Monitoring parolees for drug use as part of their release conditions
  • Determining if an accident was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Determining if someone committed a crime due to substance use
  • Monitoring a patient that uses prescription drugs. Usually, opiates or narcotics
  • Random testing as a condition of employment
  • Pre-employment screenings

In the scenarios above, substance use ranges from “frowned upon” (such as cannabis) to illegal, which is why individuals get screened in these situations.

Types of Drug Tests

Depending on the circumstance, you might need urine, blood, saliva, or hair follicle drug screening.

Urinalysis Drug Screen

A urine drug screening (urine drug test) uses a sterilized cup to obtain a small urine sample, also known as specimen collection. This is the most common form of drug screening due to its affordability and ease of collection.

A urine test can detect if more than one substance is present in your urine. This includes prescription medications and illegal substances. However, urine screening is qualitative, unlike serum tests, and cannot determine how much drug is present in your system.

Urine Screening Accuracy

Urine tests, like any other screening, are subject to errors. If a drug is present, no matter how much, the test will come back positive. If you get a positive result, the lab will need to confirm the result. Some people receive a positive screening result despite never using illegal substances. This is due in part to food or medication that mimics illegal substances.

This includes the consumption or use of:

  • Vicks VapoInhalers
  • CBD products (CBD and THC in marijuana read the same)
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressant medications

Did you know that energy drinks like Monster and RedBull can also trigger a positive result? Some energy drinks tested contained as much as 0.5% alcohol. If you must submit to breathalyzers as part of an employment screening or due to a legal issue, such as previously driving while intoxicated or under the influence, and you have maintained sobriety, don’t drink an energy drink before your test.

Serum Blood Screen

Serum or blood screening (blood drug test) is a drug screen that can only be administered by a skilled professional. This drug screening requires a small amount of venous blood for testing.

During the process, a phlebotomist removes blood from a vein in your arm or hand and collects it in a tube they send away for testing. A blood screen is useful in emergencies where urine or saliva is no longer available.

The one downside to a blood drug test is that it has a very small detection window. A urine or hair follicle test works better to determine if a person has used drugs over a longer period.

Drugs Detected

All drug screening tests detect the presence of illegal drugs and opioid/narcotic prescription medication.

Some of the many prescription medications and illicit substances blood drug screening tests look for are:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Barbiturates
  • Alcohol
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Buprenorphine
  • Cannabinoids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Hydrocodone
  • Phencyclidines
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Oxymorphone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Amphetamines

Blood tests, like urine tests, have a small margin of error. If you receive a positive result, but haven’t used drugs, raise this issue with the testing lab. They may provide a second test to confirm the positive.

If you need help getting clean, Zinnia Healing offers medically supervised detox at our fully accredited facilities nationwide. Our team of compassionate professionals provide you with the tools you need to start your recovery journey. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to find out more.

Saliva Blood Screen

Saliva screening (mouth swab drug test) is also called Oral Fluid Testing (OFT).

A saliva drug screen detects the presence of illegal substances by collecting a small amount of saliva on a Q-tip from the inside of your cheek. Saliva contains the presence of drugs and their metabolites.

Drugs consumed orally are detected at a higher rate in a saliva test, unlike urine tests which mainly detect metabolites (drug byproducts).

Follicle Drug Screen (Hair Drug Test)

Hair follicle drug screening uses hair to detect the presence of drugs. This method of collection can determine a longer duration of drug use. For example, hair from the scalp reveals drug use up to 3 months in the past, and body hair reveals drug use up to 12 months in the past.

Hair reveals the presence of:

Some people believe that washing their hair with special shampoo will remove the presence of drugs, but this is a myth. This test looks for drugs in the hair follicles.

What Happens If You Fail a Drug Test?

Failing a drug screening may cost you your job. Some companies require employees that fail their drug screenings to participate in a rehabilitation program before returning to work.

Sometimes false positives can happen. It’s important to remain calm and contact the testing center if your test is positive despite not using drugs. Some tests look for trace amounts of drugs in your system. However, the person ordering the test can specify the quantity of drugs to look for. This eliminates the risk of detecting second-hand inhalation or trace amounts.

If you have a job requiring frequent drug screening but have failed your drug screenings more than once, you may need help for drug abuse. Drug abuse and addiction can cause a person to use drugs despite their negative consequences.

Some people try to quit on their own and have immense difficulty. The symptoms of withdrawal coupled with drug cravings are hard to face alone — and you don’t have to.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug abuse or addiction, Zinnia Healing can help. We provide evidence-based drug addiction treatment programs nationwide in our inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers.

Our caring treatment specialists are ready to help you get back on track today. Call (855) 430-9439 to learn more about the first steps on your journey to sobriety.