According to Addiction Center, around 21 million Americans suffer from at least one addiction. Not only has the number of drug deaths per year nearly tripled since 1990, but drug use and addiction cost the US economy over $600 billion per year.
Drugs have the power to damage and disrupt the individual, their friends and family, their workplace, and the country as a whole!
But what’s the best way to check if somebody has been using drugs?
Could oral swab drug tests offer a solution? If so, are they accurate? Which is more accurate, urine or saliva drug tests? How far back can use be detected? To discover the answers to all your oral swab test questions, just keep reading!
What is a Mouth Swab Test?
There are many ways to test an individual for drug use: saliva, urine, blood, and hair samples are just some examples. While the latter two of these options require the samples to be sent to a lab for analysis, saliva and urine samples show instant results.
Oral swab drugs tests typically involve rubbing a sponge or cotton swab on the inside of a person’s cheek to collect saliva and other biological materials. The sample is then inserted into a solution containing enzyme immunoassay technology, which detects indicators of substance consumption.
The presence or absence of certain chemicals leads to positive or negative test results.
Recognizing drug use, abuse, or addiction isn’t always straightforward, so regular testing is one solution to ensure that an individual is keeping clean.
Different tests can detect different substances. For example, simple tests are available for specific drugs, such as for recent alcohol or marijuana use. Panel options can range from 1 to 16, but one of the most common options is the 10-panel oral swab drug test.
Unlike hair or blood samples, which can detect substance use from months ago, saliva samples detect more recent use. But how far back will a mouth swab drug test go?
These are the substances (and detection times) for a standard 10-panel saliva drug test:
- Amphetamines (2 days)
- Phencyclidine (1-2 weeks)
- Barbiturates (1-4 days)
- Oxycodone (1-3 days)
- Methamphetamines (2-4 days)
- Buprenorphine (2-6 days)
- Marijuana (over 5 days)
- Cocaine (2-4 days)
- Morphine (2-4 days)
- Benzodiazepines (1-2 days)
Oral swab drug test effectiveness can vary between substances. For example, saliva tests are considered a great option for detecting marijuana use.
Accuracy of Oral Swab Drug Tests
When it comes to discussing the accuracy of oral swab drug tests, there are two common questions to answer: how accurate is a saliva drug test, and is it more accurate than a urine sample?
Saliva drug tests typically range between 90% and 99% accuracy, but you can take the guesswork out of the equation by purchasing a 10-panel saliva drug test that offers 99% accuracy.
When considering the accuracy of urine vs. saliva drug tests, the answer isn’t as straightforward. Both have their pros and cons when it comes to specific substances, detecting recent use, and the ability to tamper with results.
One of the benefits of oral swab drug tests is that there is very little scope for tampering. The same level of privacy that’s required for a urine sample isn’t necessary for a saliva test. This means that the supervisor can ensure that the individual follows the procedure exactly as instructed.
Taking the Test
The procedure for using a 10-panel oral swab drug test applies to most saliva tests. By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that the results are accurate.
Step 1 – Prepare for Testing
Ensure that the person doesn’t eat, drink, or smoke for at least 10 minutes before collecting the saliva sample. Doing so can interfere with the results.
It’s also important to know if the individual is taking any medications. Prescribed substances have the potential to produce a positive result. For example, Metoprolol can produce a positive MDMA result.
Step 2 – Use the Sponge
Remove the sponge from the test kit. The individual should insert the sponge into their mouth and allow it to soak in their saliva for three minutes. It can help to move the sponge around the mouth, provided they don’t chew it.
A person with little saliva may need to do this step for a longer time. If enough saliva isn’t collected with the first sponge, they can use a second one. Don’t use any sponge more than once!
Step 3 – Extract the Sample
Once enough saliva has been collected, insert the sponge into the test kit. Ensure that the collection stick lines up with the guide rail before pressing the collection stick to extract all the saliva.
If multiple collection sticks have been used, repeat this step with each sponge before continuing to the next step.
Step 4 – Close the Lid
Once enough saliva has been extracted, remove the sponge from the test kit and close the lid. Make sure that the test kit remains vertical until the results have been displayed.
Luckily, video tutorials are available to help walk you through the various stages of using your drug test kit.
Reading the Results
Are mouth swab tests instant? If you’re testing alcohol, the result will usually be visible within 2 minutes and shouldn’t be viewed any later than 10 minutes. The results for other substances appear within 10 minutes and shouldn’t be viewed any later than one hour.
Learning how to read a swab drug test will differ depending on whether your kit includes blood alcohol indicators. If it does, a negative result will produce no color change on the reactive pad. If there is a color change, you’ll need to compare the results to the color chart provided with your kit.
Testing for other substances is simpler. A line will appear next to the letter C on the test for each substance. This is the control test, and the absence of a line indicates that the results are invalid.
If a test shows invalid results, you will need to repeat the process with a fresh test kit.
Assuming all the controls show a result, a line will appear next to the letter T on the tests for each substance. This line may appear faint, but its presence indicates a negative test, while its absence indicates a positive test – meaning that the person’s saliva indicates they’ve consumed that substance.
Saliva vs. Urine Testing
Oral swab drug tests are often compared to urine tests, but which one is superior? What are the benefits of a saliva drug test over a urine test?
For starters, an oral swab test is quicker, both in terms of collecting the sample and seeing the results. It is also easier to supervise and offers fewer opportunities for result tampering.
With urine tests, the individual can drink excess water to dilute their urine enough that the results become invalid. It’s also possible, due to the necessary privacy, for them to use clean urine provided by another person. Neither of these methods is possible with saliva testing.
Oral swab drug tests offer a more hygienic option, as the sample is easier to collect and handle. This limits the risk of contamination but also increases the comfort of all those involved. It can be awkward and uncomfortable having to pee in a cup while a supervisor waits outside the stall.
Both options offer affordable, quick, and convenient solutions to testing individuals for substance use.
Saliva Drug Test FAQ
Oral swab drugs tests can seem a little complex. To ensure that you understand the ins and outs of this type of test, we’ll explore some of the frequently asked questions.
When is the best time to carry out a test?
A saliva drug test can be carried out at any time of the day or night, provided it’s been at least 10 minutes since the individual last ate, drank, or smoked.
Can I buy a saliva test kit that detects substance use over a longer time?
One of the few limitations of a mouth swab drug test is that it can only detect substance use over the past few days or weeks. Blood and hair samples can detect use from months ago, but these must be sent to labs for testing.
How many substances can I test for?
Although a 10-panel oral swab drug test is a common choice, there are many other options available. These range from one panel to 16!
Ready to Buy a Test?
Oral swab drug tests are a simple, affordable, quick, and accurate way of testing an individual who may have been using illicit substances. We’ve discussed the ins and outs of these tests, including how to use them and what the results mean.
If you’re ready to purchase tests from us, head to the top of the page to see the range of products we offer. If you have any questions, need more information, or wish to place a bulk order, click here to contact us!