Last updated: October 2, 2023
Home drug-test kits are commonly sold online and in stores. Parents purchase them to drop a test on a child when they suspect drug use. Some small businesses use them instead of incurring the expense of laboratory testing. If an employee tests positive—and it’s documented in the company’s drug-free policy—a drug test must be submitted for laboratory testing.
Some worried employees who are facing a workplace drug test might choose to purchase a home test kit for a trial run. However, sometimes the result leaves them even more worried than when they started the process. When that’s the case, it may be because the test result shows a faint line.
The home test instructions say that a line in the test area determines a negative result because it’s a pass fail type of test. No line at all indicates drug use. Parents and drug-using employees often become unnerved, however, when the line is so faint that it’s nearly non-existent.
Negative never equals positive
Since home drug test kits are strictly pass or fail, there is no in-between. When reading the test result, there should be two colored lines present. When you see them, you are looking at a negative result.
The first line is found at the very top of the testing window. That is the control region (C). The test is considered invalid if there is not a line in the control region. The second line appears in the test (T) region.
If there is a colored line in the control region and none in the test region, the result is positive.
This said, no matter how faint the line is in the test region, it’s still negative. Fretting parents and nervous employees often mistake a faint line as meaning a small amount of the drug still remains in the system.
The intensity of the line has nothing to do with drugs in the system. A positive urine drug test requires that a specific amount of the drug is present. If that level is reached, there will be no line at all.
The minimum drug quantity required to obtain a positive result differs depending on the drug. Again, if that amount—or a higher amount—of the drug is contained in the specimen, no line shows up.
Crossing the line
Every drug test has a pre-set detection level. Hopefully, it uses the levels set by SAMHSA. It’s best to choose a home drug test that is FDA approved.
This determines the positive or negative. However, it has no way to detect the precise amount of a drug—remember, the method is either pass or fail.
There are valid reasons that the line in the test portion of the drug test is faint.
Urine excretion cleanses the body of unnecessary substances. It makes sense that what you put in affects what comes out. This pertains to everything, not just drugs. Individual factors can cause a faint line to appear on a drug test.
- Medication intake
- Fluid consumption
- Overall health
Over the counter medications abound. Some of them are chemically similar to the illicit or abused drugs identified on drug screens. If a similar compound is present in the urine, a faint line is likely to indicate that.
Consider the source
Laboratory technicians are experts when it comes to reading drug test results—any red flag causes them to look a little deeper. A faint line on the test result doesn’t cause concern.
The test is immediately deemed negative.
The nervous employee probably won’t though. Parents—or anyone else—who need peace of mind can contact a SAMHSA approved laboratory to determine test results. It will alleviate the concern equated with the faint line because they guarantee accurate results.
Contact a local laboratory to inquire about cost, the collection process, and to answer any questions you have regarding the test. A representative will be happy to help you.
Less reputable companies may have substandard ratings. SAMHSA approved laboratories earned their government rating. Government regulations hold them to the strictest of standards. The staff is aware of the possibility of varying test results. Moreover, they ascertain that their sample cups and saliva test swabs match government standards.
This is especially important for employers who utilize employee drug testing. It’s equally important for parents who need to know the truth about their child and drug use. The thought of where such a dark path leads is terrifying. Allowing a laboratory to determine whether or not a child is using drugs rather than trusting a home test kit grabbed at the local shopping center brings peace of mind.
In the case of a positive result, parents can trust the accuracy and begin seeking outside help for their child. If it’s the case of an employee, follow the company protocol.
And, of course, a negative result brings a sigh of relief.
Straight and narrow
Employees or teens that use drugs are putting themselves at risk.
Many illicit or misused drugs are highly addictive. Becoming a drug addict is not something anyone plans. It usually begins as a thrill-seeking adventure or perhaps someone chooses to self-medicate when faced with uncomfortable situations. For instance, someone who suffers from anxiety may drink or use drugs to lessen it.
As a matter of fact, fifty percent of drug addicts are genetically predispositioned to be so. Seriously, it’s in their DNA. Perhaps, they may have never used a drug in their life, but after using opioid pain killers after surgery, they looked for more when the prescription ran out. The other fifty percent of addicts have poor coping skills.
Addiction is a disease, not a weakness. Drugs eventually change how the brain works. This leads to a loss of self-control and damaging behaviors. And, all too often, death.
We must draw a line in the sand. It will not be faint but bold and strong.
Continued education, employers who promote drug-free workplaces, and parents that promote drug-free homes are all sound ways for us to leave our mark.