Drugs of abuse testing are conducted both for medical purposes and legal causes, such as workplace or roadside drug testing. Drug testing help identify the early symptoms and signs of drug abuse and addiction to enable early intervention and help prevent accidents. A drug test looks for the presence of one or more illegal or prescription drugs in urine, blood, saliva, hair, or sweat. Drug testing is a prevention and dissuasion solution used by employers, law enforcement agencies, rehabilitation centres, etc. There are multiple drug testing options available. Each option has its pros and cons depending on the environment they are administered in.
The length of time drugs stay in the system has drawn more attention from police officers, employers, and employees. Drug test detection times vary according to the drug and prevalence of drug use, the dose, the type of sample (e.g., oral, urine, hair, etc.) and the individual metabolism. The appearance of drugs within the body is detectable on varying timelines depending on the substance in question, the frequency of use, the matrix, etc. In other words, drug detection times depend on the method used to collect the substance.
Because there are so many factors affecting the time that drugs can be visible in chemical tests, the best researchers have been able to develop a range of time, or detection window, during which drugs might be detected. Synens has recently conducting on drug detection window in urine and oral fluid. Our free white paper on Window of Detection for Drugs details drug detection times using clear and very easy-to-read content and illustrations.
A drug may be detected in oral fluid in less than one hour and remain detectable for five up to 48 hours after last use.
A urine test can detect the drug for a longer period, up to 30 days. This is the case when a person uses a drug very frequently or heavily.
While a urine drug test can detect if you've used drugs in the last few days, a hair follicle drug test can detect drug use for up to 90 days. However, the major disadvantage of using hair tests is that drugs will not show up in the hair for seven to 10 days.
Nations’ strategies for addressing substance use disorders traditionally focused on punishment. In recent years, drug addiction has been recognized as "a complex multifactorial health disorder characterized by chronic and relapsing nature” that is preventable and treatable and not the result of criminal behaviour. Governments have recognized the need to shift from criminal justice to a public health approach regarding drugs of abuse.
Public health is one of the greatest things in which a government can invest. Advancements in technology help governments tackle public health concerns by implementing cost-effective strategies. Drug screening is one of the optimal solutions.
In 2021, the EMCDDA monitored 30 countries in Europe. Out of these, 14 have national drug strategies implemented to tackle DOA-related issues. The prevention programs use a wider range of approaches, among which environmental and universal education, selective prevention, legislation changes etc.
Prevention is the best strategy. Early prevention, which is relatively inexpensive, can prevent dire and expensive health care problems later in life. The prevention programs include several drug prevention strategies used effectively, such as drug testing.
Drug testing helps improve traffic safety, workplace safety, etc. Drug use can actually impair a person’s judgment and increase safety risks. Drug misuse is especially concerning in certain industries, such as construction, in which using drugs at work could cause an injury or even a fatality. Moreover, employee drug use can even impair the performance, integrity, or productivity of the operation. Thus, drug testing allows employers to target employees using illicit drugs, removing weak links and improving their company’s performance overall. Police performing drug testing can prevent drugged driving.
Over 16 million individuals worldwide have had or currently suffer from opioid use disorder (OUD). The number of people under drug addiction keeps increasing. According to the European Drug Report, DOAs are the source of many chronic and acute health issues, with various degrees of severity. Documented chronic issues include dependence and a number of infectious diseases, while acute effects can culminate in a drug overdose. The content and purity of any substance can widely vary nowadays in its availability to users, which creates further health risks and issues, as well as new challenges to drug-related first responders.
The impacts of the opioid epidemic include increases in narcotics misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing drug withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy.
Recent growth in the number of pain medications and opioid dependency clinics has greatly increased demands for drug testing. Opioid pain relievers are also called narcotics. They are only used for pain that is severe and is not helped by other types of painkillers. When used carefully and under a health care provider's direct care, these drugs can be effective at reducing pain. However, overprescribing opioid medications has led to an increase in Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Governments must implement the right strategies to tackle the evolving drug epidemic.
Since the approaches are responses to the changes in drug consumption or abuse, so are the methods and instruments these approaches employ meant to address the evolution of DOAs in the environment and population. Among the novel digital solutions, the use of computer-based technologies is on the rise. Drug testing kits and a number of mobile devices for drug screening are now becoming the norm for law enforcement agencies as well as prisons, hospitals, and even private businesses of any kind. Portable analyzers are an extremely useful tool for the fast detection and immediate adequate response to DOA in urgent situations that could otherwise pose a threat to the public.
Apart from prevention, at the other end is the detection and usually treatment. While outpatient services dominate, that still includes primary healthcare and general mental healthcare centres, of course, equipped with adequately trained medical professionals. An estimated 1.2 mil people received treatment in all these settings in 2017. Out of these, 17% were referred by the criminal justice system. Approximately 973.000 patients received treatment in specialized treatment centers, while 64.000 were admitted to hospitals.
Azadfard, Mohammadreza, Martin R. Huecker, and James M. Leaming. ‘Opioid Addiction’. In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2021. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448203/
‘Pain Medications - Narcotics: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia’.
'UNGASS 2016 - Outcome Document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem'. UNODC, April 2016.
‘How Long Drugs Can Be Detected in Your System’. Accessed 21 May 2021.