Saliva Drug Testing: The Ultimate Guide

Drug testing is more and more common nowadays during pre-employment, at sports competitions, at colleges and university admissions and many other such social life situations. There are many types of drug testing available, among which saliva drug testing plays quite an important role. This is a noninvasive type of procedure, which can reveal if the patient has consumed drugs, and what exact types of drugs he has consumed. Below, you will find a comprehensive guide on saliva drug testing, and answers to many important questions about the topic.

How is it possible to test drugs in saliva

When you consume food or drinks, these will ultimately produce metabolites in your system. Since the metabolites do have a sticky structure, they will adhere to the cells in your system. This is precisely what happens as well when you consume drugs, so check out how drugs can be detected in saliva:

  • All the metabolite substances will be stored in your fat cells
  • With the passing of time, the metabolites will travel from these fat cells into the blood system
  • The metabolites will then move from the blood system into your saliva, and this is how drug usage is detected

Saliva drug tests are incredibly convenient to use. Typically, the patient will have to swab his/her mouth and produce the saliva specimen which will then be sent to the lab for analysis.

Saliva drug test detection times

Depending on the type of drug you have consumed, these are the detection times in saliva for the most common types of illicit substances:

  • THC, or Marijuana and Hashish will stay up to 24 hours in saliva. It is possible to test for THC after an hour has passed from the last usage.
  • Crack & Cocaine- these substances will stay in your saliva for even up to 3 days. Both crack and cocaine can be tested in saliva immediately after ingestion.
  • Opiate substances- these will stay in saliva between 2 and 3 days. Testing for opiates from the moment of ingestion is possible.
  • Ecstasy, Methamphetamine, – detectable in saliva for up to 2 or 3 days.

Typically, your employer will let you know when and which type of drug test will be used so that you can prepare for testing. However, if you find out only 2 days before the screening, your test can easily become positive if you use certain drugs because detection times even in saliva can last up to 3 days as you can note.

Saliva Drug test important facts

The saliva drug testing method is not accepted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (or SMSHA) for usage in federally mandated drug testing or DOT. Then, one of the disadvantages of saliva drug testing is that drugs remain for a quite short period as detectable in saliva. The traces of most illicit substances will not be detectable after about 3 days, as opposed to urine tests where Marijuana can be detected even after 3 months.

Another disadvantage is that saliva drug tests are not suitable for testing chronic (or prolonged) drug use. Since most substances will disappear from the saliva content in 3 days or less, it is enough if someone stops taking the drug a few days before the test. This will result in a negative test, even though the patient might be a chronic user or even an addict.

Saliva drug tests are relatively expensive, so this is why most employers will prefer urine testing which allows longer detection times, and it is also much cheaper. It is essential to mention that some prescription medications such as Ibuprofen or even Advil can give a false positive result on a saliva drug test. If you know you will be subjected for such a test, then make sure to inform the administrator of the analysis about all prescription and over the counter medication you might be taking.

Hair drug testing is considered much more accurate than saliva drug testing. With a hair drug testing, the experts can tell not only details about the number of drugs consumed but also the approximate date of the last usage.

Since most legal proceedings do not accept saliva testing, this type of solution is not so often performed as a urine analysis, blood testing or hair drug testing. Saliva drug testing is often considered a “weak” type of testing, because by eating certain foods or smoking, for example, it is possible to mask well the presence of given illicit substances.

How frequent is saliva drug testing used

As explained above, drug detection times in saliva are quite low (24 to 48 hours, sometimes 3 days). This is precisely why the saliva drug tests are used when they need to see only if a person has very recently used drugs. Such cases involve accident sites, equipment drivers, before sporting competitions and so on.

Many employers avoid this type of testing because they wish to know if the candidate is a long-term user. Since saliva gives mainly recent data about drug usage, most employers choose other methods (urinalysis mainly).

About home saliva drug tests

It is quick, easy and convenient nowadays to purchase Saliva drug test kits online. Many parents opt to buy such kits to perform drug testing on their teenagers at home. Also, people who are curious to see how such a test works will purchase it and perform home testing.

These saliva drug test kits require one to release saliva into a container, and many tests are color coded. For example, if the sample will turn green it means that there have been found traces of opiates, etc. The home kits will help testing for the following drugs of abuse: Cannabis, Heroin, Cocaine, Speed, Methamphetamines, Benzodiazepines or Methadone.

Those looking for home test kits should ensure to purchase quality tests which are accredited by health institutions and CE marked.