Last updated: September 28, 2020
Over-the-counter (OTC) home drug tests are found in department stores, pharmacies, online, and you may even find one at the local quick store. Whether or not they are as accurate as laboratory testing is questionable though. They employ the pass or fail method of testing for drugs in the system. Laboratories utilize sophisticated equipment to determine results.
The reason for purchasing an OTC drug test varies. Some employers purchase home drug test kits for use in employee drug testing. Parents concerned that a child is walking a path that leads to the darkness of drug addiction may randomly home drug test as a preventative measure. Or, maybe, you are facing a drug test for work or as a stipulation of your parole or probation and you just want to know if you’re going to pass.
The last possibility is the one we’d assume is the reason for that “I’ll just run to the quick shop down the street” type of purchase.
The cost of drug testing varies depending on the chosen method. Blood tests are the most expensive followed by the hair follicle drug test. The urine and mouth swab tests are the most cost-effective. Employers that use home drug test kits might do so because of the cost factor. They’re less expensive. Of course, their cost ranges depending on the number of drugs detected.
Another benefit is no wait time. Home drug test kits provide results in minutes rather than waiting on laboratory results to be returned. The majority of drug tests conducted each year yield a negative result. That’s the result that employers want to see, of course, a negative result means your employee can get right back to work.
However, if the test pops positive for drug use, company policy in place should require that further testing be done. The main reason for this is because home drug tests are not admissible in court. A disgruntled employee that brings a lawsuit against your company in the event of a failed over-the-counter test is likely to cause trouble for the business in one way or another.
Laboratory test results are admissible in court. Employers that forward positive OTC test specimens on for laboratory testing take that result as a final outcome. If retesting determines a positive result, the employer follows company policy to that effect.
Often, the employee loses their job.
Furthermore, OTC manufacturers advertise test accuracy falling between 95-99 percent. However, if not FDA approved, whose guidelines do they use?
If you are a parent thinking of using home drug testing as a preventative measure, you might want to think again. If you suspect a child of drug use, you’re, obviously already going through a stressful time in your life.
Why risk adding to that stress by misinterpreting a home drug test result? Or, worse yet, leaving room for you to wonder if your child has somehow manipulated the test. Instead, contacting a reputable drug testing company might cause you to sleep better at night. You’re certain they administer the test correctly and in a professional manner.
If someone uses drugs, the thought of getting “busted” with a positive drug test result is a legitimate cause for concern. If they are on probation or parole, it can mean going to jail. For employees, it can make the difference in whether or not you get or keep a job. Moreover, if someone is hiding drug use at home, it’s a means of being “found out.”
They may think taking an OTC drug test at home will give them a head’s up as to the outcome. Many believe they will have time to devise a method to “fake” the test in some way. Of course, this is very unlikely. Laboratory technicians trained to spot “red flag” factors pick up on many things. Red flags require further testing or marking the test inconclusive.
Additionally, lab testing equipment is extremely sensitive. Advancements in technology are making it harder and harder to put one over on your employer with a false negative test result. If you use drugs, odds are you’ll be found out.
It would be better for you to just come clean and then get clean. Admitting to your employer that you have a drug abuse problem is your greatest hope of receiving help and, hopefully, keeping your job or having a chance to come back after completing any rehabilitation stipulations required by the company.
Making the case
Manufacturers were quick to figure out they needed to provide home drug test kits to the public. And, why not? Millions of people take drug tests each year. There’s big money in that market!
Manufacturers tout extreme accuracy. However, the test levels may not be set to government standards as there are no mandated guidelines to follow. Their claim of accuracy may be unfounded if they don’t have FDA approval.
Urine drug tests are commonly chosen when purchasing a home drug test kit. However, mouth swab and even hair home test kits are available for purchase. Hair follicle testing must be done at a laboratory. You mail in the specimen and wait for results.
In the case of urine testing, it may be easier for the test subject to adulterate the specimen. A professional technician picks up on any signs that the test subject is nervous or acting strangely. “Sure-fire” methods to beat a drug test abound. A home drug test kit may be more susceptible to them. It’s unlikely someone will “beat” a laboratory test.
In addition, you can purchase “fake pee” as easily as a home drug test kit. A trained lab technician may pick up on something that causes them to suspect synthetic urine has been submitted for testing. To the untrained eye, however, it’s likely to go unnoticed.
Sometimes test results are hard to determine. For instance, a line in the specified result area determines a negative result. People often mistake a faint line as being a sign that a low level of drugs remains in the subject’s system. That’s not the case at all. Other things may cause a faint line result, but it’s not drugs.
The other alternative
Overall, laboratory drug testing is a wise course of action.
A drug testing company administers the test for you alleviating the worry of misreading results. We’ve mentioned laboratory equipment sensitivity and the use of the latest technology as being a huge plus. Finding a drug testing company that uses a SAMSHA approved laboratory, for instance, assures you of the most accurate result. To earn SAMSHA’s seal of approval, laboratories strictly adhere to the highest possible government standards.
Furthermore, laboratory testing affords you peace of mind whether you’re an employer, parole officer, or parent. If you feel the need to drug test someone for any reason, it’s important to trust the result you receive. It’s the first step in pointing someone toward the help they need.