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Pros and Cons of Drug Testing Methods

Home / Pros and Cons of Drug Testing Methods

There is no perfect drug testing method. Each method has some advantages and disadvantages. What makes a drug testing method good or not so good is more related to the needs of the person.

Urine Drug Testing

Pros: Urine drug tests depend on a mature technology and they have an extensive scientific base. The results are accurate and reliable. The cost of urine drug testing kits are lower than other types of drug test kits. Results are almost instant and there is no need for a lab or technician to conduct the drug tests. These drug tests kits are easy to store and have a long shelf life.
Cons: Depending on the person and the substance used, there is usually up to 3-30 day window of detection. Urine drug test kits are easier to adulterate than other drug test kits (Some new design tests like cup test kits are harder to manipulate and more dependable in that sense). Urine drug tests have sometimes been viewed as invasive or embarrassing by some donors.

Saliva Drug Testing

Pros: Saliva (Oral) drug test kits are very donor friendly, non-invasive and easy to collect the specimen. There is no need for a bathroom to administer the tests. Saliva drug testing is great at detecting very recent drug use. Also these drug tests are harder to adulterate than the urine drug tests since the sample can be obtained under direct supervision. Results can be read in minutes and there is no need for a lab. Depending on the test, up to 8 (5 or 6 at a time) different drugs could be detected. This method is the best method for determining current use and impairment.
Cons: The main disadvantage of saliva based drug test kits is their detection window. Depending on the variation of the rate of saliva production of the person or the type/density of the drug used ranges from a few hours to at most 2-3 days. Also smoked drugs might cause contamination of saliva and inconclusive results.

Hair Drug Testing

Pros: Hair Drug Testing kits have a very long drug detection window. For most drugs it can detect drug use about 90 days or more. This testing method is very donor friendly. Adulteration is a lot more difficult in hair drug testing than any other test method. The hair test is very dependable and accurate.
Cons: The main disadvantage of hair drug testing is the fact that you need a lab to run the test and generate the results. Because of this extra step it might take a few additional days to get results. Another disadvantage of the hair drug test is the fact that it might not detect very recent drug use. Hair drug test kits are usually the most expensive drug test kits due to the need for lab testing.

Spray (Sweat) Drug Testing

Pros: Spray (Sweat) drug test kits are non-invasive and donor friendly. It is very easy to collect the specimen and no bathroom is needed for taking the specimen. The detection window is long and usually can detect drug use up to a couple of weeks. These drug tests are relatively tamper proof since they are hard to manipulate. There is no need for a lab and you can get results in minutes.
Cons: The main disadvantage of spray or sweat based drug testing is the fact that they are open to contamination. Also large variations of sweat production rates of possible donors make some results inconclusive. There is not much variety in these drug tests since they are not as popular as urine or saliva drug testing kits. Their prices tend to be a little higher per test conducted. One main disadvantage of this testing method is the limited number of drugs that can be detected.