Substance abuse can harm a company, its employees, and its customers in many ways. It can reduce the addict’s overall productivity, put the addict more at risk of either becoming a victim of or causing a work-related accident and more. For this reason, many companies use drug tests companies to screen applicants for any signs of substance abuse.
By screening applicants before hiring them, the company can protect itself, its employees, and its customers from the mental and physical consequences of substance abuse. Some of the most common drug tests are urine, hair, blood, and saliva analyses. Let’s take a closer look at each of these tests to gain a better understanding of what you can expect from them.
The first and most common type of drug test is by far the urine analysis (also known as a urinalysis). In this test, a doctor or a technician receives a urine sample from the applicant. The doctor or technician then analyzes the sample for traces of a specific drug or drugs.
One reason urinalysis is so popular is that it can detect these traces long after the effects of the drug have worn off. For example, a urinalysis can detect traces of THC usage for 90 days or more.
Other reasons for the urinalysis’ popularity include its rapid turnaround time and relative cost-effectiveness. It’s a quick and painless process for the applicant, too.
The second type of drug test is hair follicle testing. This common drug test analyzes around 100 strands of the applicant’s hair for signs of drug usage. It can detect drug usage from within the past 90 days. This time frame gives an applicant less wiggle room to “detox” just long enough to trick the blood test if they are an addict.
The third type of drug test is saliva analysis. While a saliva analysis is perhaps most commonly associated with ancestry DNA tests like AncestryDNA and 23andME, it is also used by companies to check whether an applicant has recently engaged in drug abuse.
Like a urine and hair analysis, saliva analysis is an easy and painless process for the company and the applicant. All the applicant has to do is let a doctor or a technician swab the inside of their cheek for 1-3 minutes. The doctor or technician then submits the sample for analysis. The analysis can provide results in as little as a few minutes or as long as 24 hours depending on where the doctor or technician sends the sample to. On-site analyses generally have faster turnaround times than lab analyses.
The fourth type of drug test is blood testing. This drug test analyzes an applicant’s blood for evidence of substance abuse. Unlike a urine or hair follicle analysis, however, blood analyses are expensive for the company and invasive for the employee.
And while blood analyses can provide doctors and technicians with results within hours or even minutes, they also give doctors and technicians a much shorter window than urine or a hair analysis. Therefore, even if the last time an applicant used a specific drug was only a few days before they provided their blood sample, that blood sample is highly unlikely to be detected by analysis.