Although urine is a very common and trustworthy choice of specimen for drug testing, it isn’t foolproof. Drug testing methods have evolved over the years and now include a variety of specimen options, including oral fluid, hair follicles, perspiration, and blood. These specimens have different collection processes, detection windows, drug detection abilities, and more. Since many companies are considering oral fluid (better known as saliva) as an alternative to urine, we encourage you to explore oral fluid vs. urine drug testing so that you can make the best choice for your company or organization.
Oral Fluid vs. Urine Drug Testing
Oral fluid testing can identify the presence of a drug within a matter of hours after use, while urine tests aren’t quite as prompt (source). For example, if an employee uses a nonprescription drug a few hours before a surprise urine test, the drug might not register in the test. If that same employee receives an oral fluid test, the test will likely detect the drug use. However, both oral fluid and urine testing can detect most drugs for up to 1-4 days after use.
Immunoassay Screenings and LCMS Confirmation
Both urine and oral fluid analysis tests use immunoassay screenings, which provide labs with a positive or negative result. However, false positives are certainly possible. Luckily, in an oral fluid analysis, lab technicians double-test each positive result with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LCTMS). LCTMS is the most sensitive drug testing method, so the drug test recipient is less likely to receive a false-positive result.
Urine tests only measure by-product drug compounds, and these compounds don’t correlate with current impairment levels. So if a person is under the influence of drugs when they give a urine sample, the test won’t reveal the current impairment level. However, saliva tests measure the parent compound, which is a drug’s psychoactive element. This is because the parent compound is always present in a person’s blood and, as a result, in their saliva. In addition, oral fluid tests can measure exactly how impaired a person was at the time of the test. This can be especially helpful if you’re trying to determine whether or not a person was under the influence during a work-related accident.
Alteration of Results
With an oral fluid test, it’s much harder to alter the results or “cheat” the test. Since urine testing requires privacy, it is easier for an individual to give a false sample. In addition, some people drink extra fluids to dilute their sample in hopes of skewing the results. With a saliva test, this isn’t possible. Since acquiring an oral fluid sample doesn’t require privacy, it is often supervised. In addition, saliva tests aren’t responsive to adulterants, which are substances that participants sometimes use in an attempt to mask the presence of drugs in their urine.
When it comes to weighing the benefits of oral fluid vs. urine drug testing, many people focus on the accuracy of the two specimens. Although urine is a popular and effective specimen choice, oral fluid tests can detect recent drug usage and are less likely to produce false positives.
Do you need assistance choosing between urine and oral fluid drug testing? Contact Tomo Drug Testing for help. Based in Springfield (MO), St. Louis (MO), Kansas City (MO), Indianapolis (IN), and Evansville (IN), we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!