Last updated: April 6, 2020
Probation drug testing is a test requirement by drug federals, drug courts and county probations for people on probation. This test is taken by legislators to ascertain that the criminals who have previously been drug users are not still abusing to keep them off crime life. Probation drug testing was initiated in the 1960s. It aimed to identify heroin users who needed help and treatment. This test is also important in judicial offices to determine releases of convicts.
What tests are required
Probation officers are responsible for the provision of guidance on these drug tests. The tests are done to screen the most abused drugs. Such drugs are marijuana, opiates, propoxyphene, cocaine, PCP, barbiturates, Quaaludes and benzodiazepines for a 10 panel drug test.
A 5 panel drug test is used to screen for opiates, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and amphetamines. Expanded opiates testing can also be added to this test. It screens for oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. Probation drug testing is ordered depending on the offense committed and the severity of the punishment an individual is receiving. This testing is mostly random. It involves between 5 and 12 drug panels.
Urine drug testing
When testing for recent use of drugs, urine drug tests are the most common and inexpensive option. Upon consumption of a drug, metabolism occurs in the body which metabolizes the drug and excretes it into the body including the urine. These metabolites of the drugs can be detected in the lab when the analysis is done.
This test is very affordable, and it can detect any drug in the system. As drugs make their way to the urine very fast, a urine drug test can detect the presence of a drug almost immediately after it has been consumed which makes it very advantageous. It is almost impossible to cheat a urine test. A urine drug test is always an option.
Another advantage of a urine drug test is that anyone can take it compared to a hair follicle test, whereby not everyone has hair.
When using Urine drug tests, it is hard to detect drug use more than a week before the test. This is because most drugs don’t stay longer than a few days in the system with the exception of marijuana. Marijuana stays up to a month in the system if its consumption was consistent and heavy. Every person has a unique system and so the period within which a drug is detectable varies from one person to another. Depending on the metabolism of the body, the number of fluids an individual consumed and released during the drug usage and the drug used, a urine test may fail.
Hair follicle testing
This is a forensic toxicology method of probation drug testing. It is a modern method which has become very popular in court systems and to employers. Probation officers also prefer this test to the urine drug test because it has a longer detection period of up to 90 days. These tests are used to screen for chronic, binge or consistent drug use over a long period of time.
When a person takes a drug, it gets ingested in the bloodstream. It is then metabolized, and these metabolites circulate together with the drug in the blood which nourishes the hair follicles depositing the metabolites in the hair follicles. The drug can be tested after a period of 5-7 days once the drug has grown out of the follicle enough.
A hair follicle drug test cannot be done on a person who does not have hair at least an inch and a half long on their body.
This can be used to detect alcohol or its metabolites in the system. This test can be done through blood, urine, breath, hair or nail specimens depending on the urgency and the circumstance. For immediate results then a breath test can be done to determine the alcohol level in the blood. For determining recent past use then blood, urine, nail or hair specimens can be used.
What next after the test?
If a probation drug testing results are positive for any of the drug panels, it is sent for more GC- MC confirmation. This additional testing is done by a laboratory that has been certified by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition, a test review is carried out by an MRO, a Medical Review Officer.
After the confirmation has been made, the person being tested is given a chance to provide any prescriptions for medication they might be taking. They are also allowed to explain to the MRO reviewing the test results. This is because it is possible to detect different types of drugs in urine tests. To evade such situations of detecting the wrong drugs, probation officers can ask for hair follicle drug tests which are more effective. Hair follicle drug tests can detect drug use for over a period of 90 days. Continuous tests are conducted to ensure that the individuals are refraining from the drugs and maintaining sobriety in cases of alcohol tests.
In case one fails a drug test that has been ordered by the court then restrictions are put in place. Such may include enrolling in a drug rehab program or serving time in jail. Probation drug tests should be taken very seriously to avoid such repercussions.