Four Part Series: Saliva Drug Testing

saliva drug test oralert Four Part Series: Saliva Drug Testing

What is Saliva Drug Testing?

Saliva is the name for the oral liquids produced by the saliva glands located in the mouth. The average adult produces in excess of one thousand milliliters of saliva on a daily basis. Saliva drug testing involves using a swab that looks very similar to a toothbrush, but in place of bristles there is a pad that collects the saliva. The pad is placed between the lower cheek and gum for about two minutes. Once saturated with saliva, the pad is then transferred to a collection vial. Many of the most commonly abused drugs can be detected in saliva including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. However, these drugs cannot be detected in saliva for very long. Saliva drug testing is most commonly used to determine is someone is or was recently under the influence of a drug.

Drug Detection Times

Saliva drug testing is easy, painless, and non-invasive. It’s also nearly impossible to beat a saliva drug test by using someone else’s saliva. This type of drug testing is most commonly used when someone is involved in a work-place accident or if someone is believed to be currently under the influence of a drug. Saliva drug tests can detect the most commonly abused drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines. Most drugs can be detected in the saliva for 12-24 hours. An extensive study by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City concluded that it is a reliable method for drug detection. Saliva drug tests are becoming more common in the workplace. Of the United States companies that drug test, 20% test both urine and hair and 30% test saliva.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Non-invasive
  • Difficult to beat
  • You can’t substitute someone else’s saliva
  • Quick results with a small sample
  • The sample doesn’t need to be sent to a lab

Cons

  • The test only works on drugs that you can take orally
  • Most drugs will be out of saliva after 12-24 hours
  • Can only detect recent drug use
  • Cannot detect long-term drug abuse

Conclusion

Saliva drug testing is very reliable, quick, and painless. It’s also difficult to beat this test because the donor cannot add any adulterants nor can they substitute someone else’s saliva (this is common in the case of urine analysis drug testing). The donor will also be monitored at all times by the person who is collecting the saliva specimen. Saliva drug testing is a great way for employers to tell if their employees are currently under the influence or if they were recently under the influence. However, saliva drug testing cannot detect historical drug abuse.  This type of drug test is best for those who drive commercial vehicles or if there is reason to suspect that someone has recently used a drug. There are many kits on the market which claim to rid the saliva of drugs, but most of these products are scams. The best way to pass a saliva drug test is to abstain from drug use.



Contributed by Guest Blogger Brandon Mahaffey

Drug Testing: Four Part Series

Each day we will be posting new information about the different types of drug tests available. Today’s topic is on urine analysis drug tests.

images Drug Testing: Four Part Series

Urine Analysis

Urine Analysis (UA) is one of the most common types of drug tests administered around the country. It is the only testing method that is approved for federally-mandated drug testing. UA tests are relatively cheap and they can screen for many different drugs at one time, which is why most rehabs and detox centers utilize this method of drug testing.

Most UA tests detect the presence of a group of five street drugs referred to as the “NIDA 5”. Those drugs include marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and opiates. Other UA tests can detect the presence of up to nine, ten, and even twelve different types of drugs. The most common drug test besides the five panel test is the ten panel test. It tests for the “NIDA 5” along with five different prescription drugs. These drugs include: marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, opiates, benzodiazepines (Xanax), barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, and methaqualone (Quaaludes).

How Urine Analysis Works

All drugs are broken down in the body in different ways. These reactions release the active compound and then gradually degrade the drug into slightly different structures, which are called metabolites. Metabolites are excreted through different bodily fluids; the most common route is through the urine. Therefore, UA drug tests can detect the presence of different metabolites associated with each drug.

Most urine analysis drug tests are conducted using a two part method. The first method is an immunoassay (IA) screening test. Immunoassays work on the principle of antigen-antibody interaction. Antibodies are chosen which will bind selectively to drugs or their metabolites. The binding is then detected using enzymes, radioisotopes, or fluorescent compounds. IA tests are a great tool for parents who are concerned that their child might be abusing drugs because they are readily available online or in stores. Most IA testing strips are inexpensive.

Drug Test 1 Panel Dip Read Drug Testing: Four Part Series

Example of an IA test

In a lab setting, the IA test will result in a negative or a preliminary positive. This type of drug screening is not quantitative, meaning the result is either pass or fail. If the test is negative, the lab reports it as such and usually they do conduct confirmatory testing. If the IA test yields a positive result, then the sample is tested using the Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectometry (GC/MS) test.

GC/MS testing provides identification of the molecules based on characteristic fragmentation patterns at specific retention times. This method is quantitative, meaning that the result will be a numeric value. For example, the cut-off level for the metabolites found in marijuana is typically 50 nanograms per milliliter for an immunoassay test. If the sample has less than 50 ng/ml, the result is a negative. However, if the sample has more than 50 ng/ml, it’s a preliminary positive. The lab will then use GC/MS technology to confirm the sample is a true positive using the typical cut off level of 15 ng/ml.

Drug Detection Times

Most drugs are water-soluble, meaning they are flushed out of the body relatively quickly. However, marijuana is a fat-soluble drug, meaning that it binds to the fat in the body. Marijuana will stay in the system, and therefore be detectable, for much longer than other drugs.

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Pros of UA Tests

  • They’re relatively inexpensive
  • UA tests are not complicated to use
  • These tests are non-invasive as compared to other drug tests
  • UA tests can detect most drugs after recent drug use

Cons of UA Tests

  • The cup used to store the sample of urine must be sterile
  • Proper procedures must be followed to avoid contamination of the sample
  • It can be difficult for a person to urinate for a drug test if they have a medical issue or if they have recently urinated
  • These tests can be unreliable if the person has time to “flush” their system (i.e. drinking a lot of water beforehand in an attempt to water down their urine)
  • People who are unmonitored during this type of test can add an adulterant to their urine or they may substitute someone else’s clean urine for the test

Specimen Validity Testing

Urine analysis drug tests are the most common form of drug testing in the USA. These tests are relatively inexpensive and non-invasive. However, they are not always reliable if someone tries to use synthetic urine or someone else’s urine in an attempt to pass. They can also, theoretically, be beaten if someone consumes large amounts of water prior to testing.

However, labs have found a way around this through Specimen Validity Testing (SVT). An SVT test will tell the lab whether the urine donor adulterated, substituted, or diluted their urine sample. The labs will check for a few different factors in determining whether the sample is legitimate or not. They will test the pH level of urine to make sure that the urine is not synthetic and that nothing has been added to the sample. Most healthy human urine falls in the pH range of 4.6 – 8. However, eating vast portions of acidic foods and consuming certain medications may influence the pH level. Certain diseases may also cause a change in the pH level.

SVT tests also detect the specific gravity of the urine. If a donor attempts to dilute either by drinking large amounts or by adding water to the sample, then the specific gravity will be affected. For example, water has the specific gravity of 1. Healthy human urine falls in the range of 1.005 – 1.030. If a donor introduces water to their specimen, the specific gravity will be off leading to a “dilute” result reported by the lab.

Creatinine levels are also checked during an SVT test. Creatinine is the breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle. Creatinine is removed from the body entirely by the kidneys. Most healthy human urine falls in the range of 500 to 2000 mg/day, but the result also depends on the donor’s age and amount of lean body mass. Creatinine levels are thrown off when a donor consumes large amounts of water prior to their urine analysis test. Therefore, creatinine levels can be a way for the lab to check if the person was attempting to dilute their sample.

Nitrous Oxide

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What is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a clear, colorless, oxidizing liquefied gas with a slightly sweet odor. The product is stable at room temperature. While classified by the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as a nonflammable gas, nitrous oxide will support combustion and can detonate at temperatures in excess of 650 °C (1202 °F).

Effects of Nitrous Oxide on the Human Body

Nitrous oxide’s painkilling and numbing qualities begin to take effect when the gas is inhaled at concentrations of 10%. At increasingly higher concentrations, a sense of well-being, or “high,” is experienced. A person experiencing a nitrous oxide high could:
  • Have slurred speech
  • Have difficulty in maintaining his or her balance or walking
  • Be slow to respond to questions
  • Be immune to any stimulus such as pain, loud noises, and speech
  • Lapse into unconsciousness
Nitrous oxide that is inhaled over a long period of time can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. When the level of vitamin B12 in the body is reduced, the red blood cell count is lowered, resulting in anemia and nerve degeneration. A vitamin B12 deficiency causes a person to have painful sensations in the arms or legs, have an unsteady walk or gait, become unbalanced, feel or appear to be irritable, and suffer intellectual deterioration.

What Are the Dangers?

Nitrous oxide readily displaces air, causing asphyxiation. A person who is rendered unconscious by nitrous oxide is likely to stop breathing within a few seconds as a result of a depressed central nervous system–brain, brain stem, and spinal cord. Depression is caused by a combination of the effects of nitrous oxide and the lowered oxygen content that occurs as pure nitrous oxide displaces oxygen from the lungs with each succeeding inhalation of the gas.

Tragedy can occur very quickly. Long-term exposure (several minutes) is not necessary before death occurs. Sudden, prolonged exposure to high levels of nitrous oxide, or a series of inhalations (without breathing clean air between inhalations) can result in death. The length of this action can be measured in seconds. Since the narcotic effect of nitrous oxide is very brief (several seconds) abusers tend to follow this repetitive action pattern.

If a person remains conscious and stops breathing the nitrous oxide, recovery (full consciousness and alertness) can occur within minutes. A person who loses consciousness, however, and continues to inhale a pure gas is most likely to die. Death usually occurs when abusers, in their attempt to achieve a higher state of euphoria, breathe pure nitrous oxide in a confined space — in a small room, inside an automobile or other vehicle cab, or by placing their head inside a plastic bag.

If death does not occur, the person who suffers from these symptoms may recover from all of them. The debilitating process is reversible, although some people have experienced permanent loss of balance.

Nitrous Oxide Abuse

Abuse of nitrous oxide as an inhalant is on the rise, as is evidenced by the increased media attention to the subject. Its abuse has grown significantly at concert venues and on college campuses. Dealers will typically fill balloons with nitrous oxide and sell them. Police and other enforcement officials have found empty and/or discarded cylinders at the end of concerts. In some cases, dealers have removed required labels that identify cylinder contents and that provide information about safe use.

While most of the publicity regarding nitrous oxide abuse focuses on its occurrence at concerts, nitrous oxide abuse for recreational purposes is equally prevalent among individuals and in small group settings. Theft of cylinders has made nitrous oxide available to people who are seeking the euphoric qualities of the gas, but who are unaware of the hazards of abusing nitrous oxide. People typically steal the cylinders from distributors or legitimate users or falsely represent themselves as legitimate users.

Traumatic Events May Cause Addiction Issues

   Traumatic Events May Cause Addiction Issues

Substance abuse and dependence can be triggered by many different events – including early childhood trauma. Some people use drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from their lives. However, other people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to mask the pain caused by abuse and/or trauma. They use the substances to self-medicate.

Unfortunately, many teenagers start abusing drugs and alcohol at an early age in an attempt to block out feelings or thoughts. They have limited healthy coping skills, so instead they use the drugs and alcohol to feel numb. A study on children who attended middle and high school near where the Twin Towers used to stand prior to the terror attack on 9/11 found a direct correlation between the trauma-inducing factors the children experienced and their likelihood to use drugs or alcohol. Some of the trauma-inducing factors included knowing someone who perished in the attack, being in fear for your life or that of your loved ones, and how close their school was to the towers.

The study found that the kids with one trauma-inducing factor were five times more likely to increase substance use and those with three or more factors were 19 times more likely to increase substance use as opposed to their counterparts with no exposure factors. The children who increased their drug and alcohol use also struggled with lower grades, poor schoolwork, and behavioral problems.

The study’s findings are astounding and show a need for proper therapy and grief counseling for children who experience a traumatic event. These events may include natural or man-made disasters, near death experiences, medical trauma, and community violence. There are many different types of trauma too. Some trauma is constant, for example, child abuse can be a constant trauma. Other trauma can be reciprocal or periodic. Trauma such as verbal, mental, and physical abuse, neglect, substandard living conditions, and sexual abuse can be one-time events but can also become episodic, periodic, or even constant events. When a teenager experiences this type of trauma, they begin to show signs of depression or unstable behavior. It’s important to identify the roots in order to begin the process of finding help before the teen starts abusing drugs or alcohol.

Anyone who has experienced trauma knows that it’s not always easy to recover. Time published an article titled How Childhood Trauma May Make the Brain Vulnerable to Addiction, Depression, which focused on the inner workings of the brain and how traumatic events can increase a teenager’s chances of becoming depressed, using substances, or suffering from a psychological disorder. The article provided info on a study of 32 teenagers conducted by researchers from the University of Texas. Of the 32 subjects, 19 teenagers experienced some type of trauma such as life-threatening illness, witnessing domestic violence, or loss of a parent before the age of ten. The remaining 13 teenagers were the control group and did not have any history of major trauma or psychiatric problems.

Researchers followed up every six months during a period of four years. During that time, the researchers found that five of the traumatized children and one child in the control group had developed major depression and four of the traumatized children and one child in the control group had developed substance use disorders. Nearly half of the children in the traumatized group had either a diagnosable drug problem or depression or both. That rate was three times the rate seen in the control group.

According to the article, “Using a brain-imaging technique that measures the integrity of the white matter that connects various brain regions, the researchers looked for any differences in the teens’ brains when they were first enrolled in the study, before they had developed any psychiatric problems. The scans showed that kids who had been maltreated showed connectivity problems in several brain areas, including the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), which is involved in planning behavior and, usually on the left side of the brain, in language processing. Another affected region was the right cingulum-hippocampus projection (CGH-R). This tract helps connect the brain’s emotional processing regions with those involved in more abstract thought, ideally allowing the person to integrate both types of information and to regulate their response to emotional stress.”

Traumatized children need access to treatment and counseling so they can come to terms with the events in their lives that are having such an adverse affect. At Inspirations, we work with teenagers to help them cope with negative events without turning to substance abuse.

E-Cigarettes

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What are E-Cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices that have been developed as an alternative to normal cigarettes. These are made up of a heater, a battery, and a cartridge that contains a solution of propylene glycol, nicotine, and some other chemicals. It gives the smoker a dose of nicotine without delivering the toxic elements like tobacco, carbon monoxide and tar that harms the lungs. With e-cigarettes, there is no smoke, meaning that the user won’t have cigarette breath or yellowing teeth.

Electronic Cigarette History

The electronic cigarette was devised in 2003 by a Chinese druggist named Hon Lik. It was introduced into the Chinese market in 2004. Golden Dragon Holdings, the company where Hon worked, began marketing the device in 2005.

Are Electronic Cigarette Dangerous?

Electronic cigarettes were first popularized as a safer way to consume nicotine. Electronic cigarettes are safer than real cigarettes, but not much is known about them. They are not currently regulated by the FDA, but they may be in the future.

Possible Dangers in E-Cigarettes

Diethylene Glycol

Electronic cigarettes are found to contain an anti-freeze component known as diethylene glycol. It is toxic to humans and can cause health issues when it’s inhaled.

Toxicity

Other than diethylene glycol, e-cigarettes also contain cancer-causing compounds like nitrosamines. If the cigarette accidentally breaks, humans may be exposed to such harmful components.

Bad Marketing

The marketing strategy of e-cigarettes has also fallen under recent scrutiny. Many electronic cigarette brands offer flavors like mint, orange, and chocolate. In some smoke shops, you can also make your own flavors. Offering a multitude of different flavors may entice people to take up smoking. It also makes e-cigarettes more attractive to children. This type of marketing actually promotes smoking rather than curbing it.

Nicotine

Health experts argue that electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, the basic element found in cigarettes. In an electronic cigarette liquid nicotine is used. Nicotine is an alkaloid medicine that is harmful for humans. A long drag on the cigarette can make you actually suck some of the liquid nicotine into your mouth. This can be very damaging for health.

Tetramethylpyrazine

E-cigarettes also consist of tetramethylpyrazine. Prolonged exposure to Tetramethylpyrazine can result in brain damage in human beings.

Misuse

There is also a widespread concern that electronic cigarette consumption may promote drug use. There are reports of liquid nicotine being substituted with liquid THC, a popular potent marijuana resin. If electronic cigarette liquid is replaced with THC liquid, it can be very damaging to health and cause addiction. It also allows people to surreptitiously smoke marijuana in a public setting using their e-cigarette. For example, it would allow someone to easily smoke marijuana in their car while driving, which is a very dangerous practice.

Cost-Effective

The e-cig is cheaper than most regular cigarettes and it lasts longer. The device may cost around $90, but liquid cartridge refills are much cheaper.

Do Electronic Cigarettes cause Cancer?

People often worry whether electronic cigarettes give rise to cancer. In electronic cigarette nicotine, flavorings, and many other harmful chemicals are used that may have cancerous effects on the body. However, carcinogenic electronic cigarette health risks have not been proved by any study.

Final Word

Overall, e-cigarettes appear to be a better alternative to real cigarettes. According to Michael Siegal, MD, MPH, and a professor as Boston University’s School of Public Health, “Obviously, it would be best if smokers could quit completely. But if that’s not possible, I think they’d be a lot better off with e-cigarettes. They’re a safer alternative.”

Cigarettes are legal for those who are at least 18 years of age. The same rule should apply to e-cigarettes in order to curb smoking among the underage population. As of right now, e-cigarettes can be purchased online which would allow and underage person to purchase and consume nicotine.