Last updated: March 30, 2020
Drug use in the workplace is a real problem. Proper drug testing is very important in combating the vice effectively and there is no cheap fix for it. In spite of increasing evidence indicating the flaws of DIY drug test kits, some companies still continue to opt for low-cost solutions, however low-cost means high risk. Employers looking to save on expenses with DIY drug test kits risk the reputation of their business, expensive court battles, and they compromise the safety of their staff.
Drug testing does seem like a straightforward thing to do, and DIY looks like a simple method to keep expenses at a minimum, but it is not so easy.
DIY is acceptable if you’re only looking to check a box. However, for any employer who is serious about workplace drug testing, professional drug testing, is the only real option.
Weaknesses of DIY drug test kits
- Reduced accuracy: The accuracy of any drug test is based on the quality of the derived sample. It is very easy for people to adulterate urine samples.
- The results of the test may be inaccurate, leading to wrongful termination of a staff employee, or employees who are using drugs going free, which ends up in accidents at the business premises. Both situations may lead to expensive court cases.
- Number of drugs identified is limited, and the cutoff levels vary.
- Lack of a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to oversee the sample collection and testing.
- Cutoff levels vary greatly in DIY drug test kits.
- Negative dilute drug test results will not be identified, making it easier for employees to cheat a drug test.
Methods used in DIY drug test kits
There are several types of samples that can be tested using certain chemicals to detect the presence of a recently used drug. Though some federal and state laws mandate which kinds of test must be used, as is the case with DOT drug testing, there are several options that are feasible for most employers. Urinalysis is the most common method used in testing for illicit drugs, under the SAMHSA’s guidelines. Most drug test kits use urine testing or saliva testing.
Urine drug test kit
A urine drug test is used to indicate if there are any drug metabolites in someone’s urine. Metabolites are simply the result of the body metabolically processing drugs. These are present for a while after the drug effects have subsided. You should note that if a urine test turns out to be positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person was “high” at the time the specimen was taken. Rather, the test checks and measures the consumption of a certain drug for the past few days.
- Urine has a higher concentration of drug metabolites than blood.
- Well-researched drug testing method.
- Point-of-care tests (POCTs) are available.
- Persons can easily adulterate or substitute urine samples.
- Some people undergo “shy bladder” syndrome which prevents them from producing a specimen.
- Short detection window, thus it is not suitable for testing presence of alcohol.
Mouth swab drug test kit
Saliva collected from someone’s mouth can be effective in testing traces of drugs. A mouth swab drug test is not easy to adulterate or substitute, and is more effective at detecting drugs like cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines.
- Noninvasive method of collecting specimens.
- Easy method of collection.
- Harder to adulterate
- Effective for testing parent drugs.
- Can detect same day use of drugs.
- Specimen volume is quite limited.
- Short detection window.
- Supervision of the person being tested is necessary for 10-30 minutes prior to acquiring a sample.
- Salivation is usually reduced by the use of a stimulant.
Hair follicle drug test
A hair follicle drug test provides a longer test window, providing a more accurate substance-use history within the previous 90 days. Similar to urine testing, hair follicle testing doesn’t give evidence of current impairment, but instead, previous use of a certain drug.
- Detection window is very long.
- Can detect of drug use up to 90 days.
- Non-invasive specimen collection method.
- 4 tests cover one year.
- Easy to store and transport.
- Adulteration or substitution is not easy.
- Unable to detect drug use within the past 7 to 10 days.
- Results can be difficult to interpret.
- Expensive and time-consuming method.
Sweat drug test kit
The sweat drug test consists of a patch that detects drug metabolites in perspiration. The patch looks like an adhesive bandage, and is worn on the skin for some time. There is a gas-permeable membrane on the sweat patch that guards the tested area from being contaminated.
- Detects the recent use of a substance.
- Cumulative testing is possible with a sweat patch.
- Noninvasive method.
- Adulteration is not easy.
- Economical alternative to urinalysis.
- Few facilities available for this type of test.
- Risk of external contamination.
Some employees have wrongfully lost their jobs due to an inaccurate DIY drug test, whereas guilty employees have tested negative, yet they were under the influence, leading to serious consequences. As an employer, it is better to invest in professional drug testing services rather than opt for the cheap option of DIY test kits. You could in the end avoid potential lawsuits.