What is an oral fluid drug test?
An oral fluid drug test refers to the collection and analysis of a saliva specimen drawn from the membrane lining inside the mouth to determine the absence or presence of drug metabolites in the system. Standardized oral fluid drug testing can confirm the recent use of prescribed or illegal substances, independent of alcohol testing parameters, identifying drug analytes such as amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).
Over the years, oral fluid drug testing has continued to gain traction. In the United States, federal regulatory agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) alongside the Department of Transportation (DOT) are moderating influences in recognizing oral fluid drug testing around safety-sensitive positions. Under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guidelines, Canadian-based laboratories are replicating the oral fluid drug testing methodology, systematically leveraging the cut-off thresholds that correspond to each drug for testing purposes.
Study reports indicate marked benefits associated with oral fluid drug testing such as the elimination of the possibility of adulteration (tampering) of a specimen and the quick turnaround time for positive or negative test results. With laboratories following a SAMHSA-regulated apparatus, a split specimen is often the criterion in establishing comparative analysis between the original test findings and confirmatory testing measures to avoid potential discrepancies.
The proposed mandate by the DHHS to advance oral fluid drug testing into all DOT-based organizations stems from years of documented success in its overall efficacy to maintain a drug-free workplace environment. Hence, Canadian laboratories are rallying behind oral fluid drug testing on its merits as a virtually tamper-proof, efficient drug testing procedure that could be useful for a wide variety of workplaces.