What Happens During a Saliva Drug Test?


Quick Answer

During a saliva drug test, the donor collects her own sample under the supervision of a trained collector. To do that, she places the collection pad between the gums and lower cheek. Once saturated, the collection pad goes into a vial that the collector seals and initials. The collector returns the sample to the laboratory for processing.

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Full Answer

Craig Medical distributes a self-test kit that can display results within 10 to 15 minutes of the beginning of the test. This tests for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. Most testing situations, such as drug tests for employment, involve sending samples to a laboratory for thorough analysis. This process takes 1 to 3 days.

Tests that are sent to laboratories for analysis can identify over 130 different compounds. A saliva sample is added to various plates which contain detection enzymes. These enzymes change colors when they react with drug-related compounds. When a positive result is discovered, the sample is analyzed with a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS). This determines the exact molecular weight and solubility of the compound, which can then be compared to drug-related compounds to verify the results of the positive enzyme test.

It is difficult to beat a saliva drug test by creating a false negative or diluting the sample. Trained professionals monitor the tests closely, so adding an additional substance to the collection pad is not a possibility. Drinking excessive water to dilute the detectable compounds is an ineffective approach, as dilution in this manner does not affect what is stored in the saliva ducts.

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