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Alcohol Drug Test - What Types of Samples Are Collected During a Drug and Alcohol Test?

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It is becoming more and more common for potential employers to require job candidates to undergo drug and alcohol testing before being offered a position within a company. Many companies require clean drug and alcohol test results in an effort to avoid on the job accidents, cases of harassment or workplace violence that is often attributed to inebriation or being under the influence. So how exactly does a drug and alcohol test work? Read on for an explanation of the different types of drug and alcohol testing available and what each type of test will reveal.
Drug testing is often done as a routine part of the hiring process, but is also used in the athletic arena to check for illegal substances that are thought to enhance performance, such as steroids. The most common drug tests are designed to reveal traces of illegal recreational drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine or meth amphetamines. Scientifically speaking, a drug test is a reading of the biological composition of a physical sample. Some examples of physical samples would include: strands of hair, a urine sample, a blood sample, perspiration or saliva.

The Two Main Types of Drug Tests

Perhaps the most commonly used type of drug test is the one in which the subject provides a fresh urine sample. This sample is typically collected in a sterile environment, using a tamper proof container that is supplied by the lab that will be reading the results. Often, an independent testing company will interpret the results off-site before providing the feedback to the company requesting the drug test. As urine testing grows in popularity among businesses requiring clean results as part of the hiring process, many companies are investing in on-site drug testing kits that are able to deliver test results almost instantly. The results of these non-laboratory specific kits is said to be relatively reliable, with results similar to those from a medical laboratory.

A slightly more sophisticated method of drug testing is that using a sample strand of hair. This method allows the testing facility to detect a wide variety of drugs with minimal cost and invasion to the person being tested. The results of this form of drug testing are often used in court cases involving situations where drugs were thought to be a factor.

How is an Alcohol Test Conducted?

Statistics show that nearly 50% of all of the fatalities related to automobile accidents or accidents in the work place involve alcohol use. This unfortunate statistic is causing many businesses to turn to effective alcohol testing for all of their employees or potential employees. Many companies employ a random testing method to detect alcohol use while on the job.
There are several ways that an alcohol test can be conducted. Tests for alcohol can be performed on samples of blood, urine, saliva, hair and the breath. The most commonly thought of form of alcohol testing may be the alcohol breath test, also known as the alcohol breathalyzer. This form of testing was made popular after the United States police force began utilizing it during routine sobriety stops. This form of testing is becoming more common among private citizens who wish to test employees or even themselves before operating an automobile.

A urine test for alcohol detection is another popular method. This method is by far the least costly method of alcohol testing and can be used by workplaces, schools or even by parents who feel the need to test their underage children. The urine test for alcohol is classified as an intrusive method of testing due to the fact that an actual bodily fluid sample is required. The urine test will reveal alcohol use in the recent past, usually up to one week, longer if heavy regular drinking took place for a long period of time before the test was administered.

Blood and saliva alcohol tests render results with similar levels of accuracy, though the saliva test is considered slightly less invasive and less expensive to conduct. Until 2008, hair strand testing was only conducted for drug testing. Over the past two years, hair strand testing for alcohol has enjoyed a surge in popularity.

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