What to know about the Most Commonly Used Drugs and Drug Testing

by Christopher Collins from Xpress Drug Test

Drug testing is a commonly performed procedure in American society as well as many other places around the world. The courts, employers, schools and law enforcement utilize this type of test in order to determine the absence or presence of a substance that has been ingested or otherwise transferred into a person’s body. Many different types of substances can be detected based on the reason the test is being conducted and the quality or accuracy of the particular test. There are also a variety of ways a drug test can be administered with varying degrees of accuracy such as testing urine, blood, hair and other samples from the body.

When does a drug test come into play?

There are dozens of common situations in society where an individual could be asked or even forced to take a drug test. Employers use pre-employment and random drug screening on new and current employees. This is most prevalent in positions where individuals may be driving or operating other heavy machinery, working with children or the elderly, handling money and some companies simply do it to lower insurance costs. The court system in the United States and in other governments around the world use drug screening on individuals convicted of drug and other related crimes as a condition of parole or probation. Law enforcement uses drug tests on drivers after fatal accidents have occurred and can be forced by court order if the person of interest does not comply, high schools in some parts of the country have started randomly testing students, and consumers can actually buy home drug screens to perform the procedure themselves.

Tests for pre-employment screening have been a subject of hot debate. Proponents argue that testing has worked to reduce the number of persons using drugs in and out of the workplace. Opponents argue that many types of pre-employment screening interrupt drug use but do nothing to eliminate it from the workplace. There is a lot of truth to this as candidates who undergo pre-employment screening will stop using drugs for the test and then start up again once hired in. Studies have shown the only real protocol to prevent continuous use is random drug screening where everyone is on “a level playing field”. Detoxification drinks are also popular and entail the user drinking a mixture of vitamins and detoxifying agents in order to clean their system of drug traces. These substances can be bought in head shops, vitamin stores, and online for around 30 dollars.

What do these tests look for?

Based on the particular situation and type of sample taken from a person’s body, there are many different types of drugs that a screen can detect. Many home drug screens can only test a limited number of substances such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) a key component of marijuana also known as weed, dank, refer, or green. Cocaine, which is also known as blow, white, coke, or nose candy. Opiates like heroin whose common street names are dope, junk, candy or big H. Morphine or codeine, which is legal to possess with a prescription and amphetamines, which are commonly called crank, crystal or Benny. More sophisticated tests performed in a medical laboratory can detect these and others like Phencyclidine (PCP), Valium, Xanax, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and other drugs that are legal to own and possess with a prescription.

Some of the most common screens that are used in pre-employment or random testing are five panel screens that test for marijuana, cocaine, morphine, codeine, heroin, methamphetamines, amphetamines and PCP. More in depth ten panel screens test for drugs that may be legally possessed and are often used in more strenuous pre-employment or random screens for police officers, truck drivers, public transit drivers, and sometimes as a condition of probation or parole among many other applications. The sample from a person’s body tested will also reveal more after a test has been taken. Each drug has a set period of time based on a person’s metabolism as to how long it will remain detectable in the body. Marijuana Drug Testing is usually the easiest to conduct and there are many over the counter tests that focus specifically on the substance. Marijuana usually takes the longest to exit the body however testing a sample of hair can detect the presence of Marijuana as far back as a few months. In contrast, Urine Drug Testing in some cases may only yield results for marijuana up to a couple of weeks after last use. Of course the amount a person uses and the amount of time that has passed between uses are factors that will influence how much of the substance is detected at the time of testing.

Why does this all matter?

Now that you know a little about the who and how of drug tests, there is also the why. While the general thought behind drug testing, no matter what entity is administering it, is to protect people and property, there is also a greater underlying societal reason. In general we as a society have accepted our drugs of choice such as alcohol and the others have been outlawed with good reason. Side effects of Drug Usage vary based on the type and amount of a drug used. Almost all drugs have been linked to some type of addiction or unhealthy disorder that can be developed after prolonged use. It is a fact that one in two will become addicted to crack cocaine, a highly purified form of the drug cocaine, after first use. One in three will become addicted to cocaine or amphetamines after first use with heroin bringing up a close fourth for highest addiction ratio to use. The new scourge of the Midwest meth amphetamines have been shown to cause severe paranoia and other mental disorders. Telltale signs of meth use include prolonged periods without sleep and then crash, extreme paranoia with no perceived threats, and sores on the face and other parts of the body from frequent itching of the user in response to a crawling feeling on the skin.

Drugs have also been directly linked to other sorts of crimes. Those addicted to any type of drug begin to steal, rob homes or commit other property crimes to get cash or things to sell to support their addiction. Some users may start selling the drug they use just to be able to have it. It is not uncommon for women addicted to crack, meth or other highly addictive substances to start trading sex for drugs or begin prostituting in general. What all this shows is that using a drug for the first time may have no consequences. Once an addiction sets in however, a person is no longer in control and all decisions made by that individual are driven by drug use. These decisions tend to be poor at best and commonly deadly to themselves and others. Drug use leads to more frequent drug use which leads to crime and contact with the law and eventually a person can be heavily addicted and destroy their own or others’ lives.

Christopher Collins has been an authority in the field of Onsite Drug Testing for more than 17 years. He was one of the first people to introduce the concept of deterrent Random Drug Testing using onsite kits into the UK. At that time almost all centers doing Drug Testing sent samples to the National Health Hospital labs. Mr. Collins then founded Euromed Ltd. which became the leading drug testing co. in the UK pioneering on site testing which enabled clinicians to act immediately without waiting for lab results. The first trial of a Drug court in North of England was sponsored by Euromed Ltd. in Wakefield called the STEPP project where he worked with staff implementing the protocols. This trial was highly successful & The British Government then “ring fenced” significant funds for onsite testing in HMP Prison Service. This was instrumental in securing a contract through Euromed Ltd. with the UK Prison service to exclusively supply all their drug testing kits & train all their officers in their usage. Christopher Collins collaborated with the late Professor John Henry who was the A&E Consultant at St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington in London to manufacture a qualitative on site test to rule in/out acetaminophen at A&E Triage. This saved significant time & cost for many UK hospitals. Mr. Collins was able to collect the appropriate data by doing clinical trials in London Hospitals & obtained FDA clearance to introduce the first on site Buprenorphine Test to the USA. Back home in the USA he has been asked to lecture at different schools & rehab centers in Orange County to parents on the dangers of drug usage through peer pressure & how using testing kits correctly can be a useful resource when working with their children giving them a reason to say “no”.