Drug Testing- Know the Facts

June 13, 2012

Drug tests are conducted by various entities, such as employers and courts, in order to determine whether or not a person is currently or has recently used alcohol or drugs. The most common types of drug tests used are urinalysis, hair follicle or blood tests.

Urinalysis produce results within minutes. A failed test for alcohol can occur 6 hours following consumption and up to 24 hours. Cannabis can remain present for 3-4 days in an infrequent user, 10 days in heavy users and 30 days or more in chronic users or users with a high body fat content. A person can fail a urinalysis for cocaine 3-5 days following use. Amphetamines can cause a failed test 1-5 days following consumption and methamphetamines 3-5 days.

Hair follicle testing can test hair from any part of the body and can detect drugs in the system for up to 12 months. Alcohol can be present in the hair for up to 2 days, cannabis cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines up to 90 days.

Blood testing is considered the more accurate form of testing and is also the most expensive method. Blood tests can reveal alcohol in the system usually within 6 hours of consumption and up to 24 hours after. Cannabis can be detected in the blood 2-3 days following usage (up to 2 weeks in heavy users), cocaine 2-5 days, amphetamines up to 12 hours, and methamphetamines up to 1-3 days.

Employers can conduct random drug tests. It is important for individuals to be apprised of their employers’ policy on drug usage and drug testing.

Individuals with pending court cases should refrain from any drug or alcohol use until the case is resolved. Often times, defendants will be required to submit to random drug tests while the cases are on-going. Drug or alcohol usage could have a negative effect on the outcome of the case.