Toxicology Screening: What Is It, and What Should I Expect?

Jun 4, 2022

Did you know that some drugs leave traces behind inside the body long after they’ve been used? According to research, millions of Americans struggle with at least one addiction. While a simple screening can’t detect whether you have an abuse problem, a drug test can tell if certain substances are in your system. Here, TOPLAB® discusses what a toxicology screening is and provides insights into these lab services.

What Is a Toxicology Screening?

Also known as a drug test or tox screen, this type of assessment is used to detect traces of drugs within the body. Substances can be detected by testing the blood, urine, or saliva. This test may be performed at a facility, but is often done directly in the workplace or a physician’s office.

Drug testing is a requirement for many employees to remain employed at a company, especially in industries like construction, manufacturing, or transportation. It may also be a requirement for acquiring an insurance policy. A physician may request a toxicology screen if the patient shows signs of substance abuse, is in treatment for drug addiction, or has been taking a controlled drug long-term for a condition.

What Is Included in a Toxicology Screening?

A toxicology screen is highly precise and can detect a wide variety of substances. For this reason, it’s often used as a reliable indicator of a possible health issue. Along with illicit substances, prescription medications are also detectable through a drug test. Some of the most common substances detected include:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Marijuana/cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Metabolite
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

A toxicology screening may be ordered to test for a single substance or several at once. The testing facility’s lab test directory can provide a full list of options.

What to Expect During Your Drug Test

In most cases, the urine or saliva is tested. After a sample is collected, it’s sent to a lab for analysis. Then, the clinical research laboratory will inform the employers or healthcare providers when the results are ready. Here is how each test is performed:

Urine Drug Test

The person administering the test will give you a specimen cup to take into the restroom. You’ll likely need to leave personal belongings in another room for compliance. In some cases, a nurse or technician may be in the restroom with you, and a blue dye may be added to the toilet to detect tampering. Simply urinate into the cup, seal the lid, and hand it to the administrator in charge.

Oral Swab Drug Test

One of the simplest tests to administer, an oral drug screening only requires saliva. You may need to avoid eating or drinking anything for 10 minutes before your testing time. The person administering the test thoroughly swabs the inside of your cheek to collect a saliva sample and seals it for testing.

Alcohol typically leaves the system within 24 hours of your last sip, but many drugs remain in your system for a few days. Others can last much longer. If a substance is detected, an employer or physician will inform the person of the next steps forward.

What Happens I Fail a Drug Test?

In the workplace, drug testing often happens randomly, so there’s no real way for employees to prepare beforehand. If the results happen to come back positive, the next step may include discussing employment consequences, such as termination or legal action. If you’ve failed a pre-employment drug screening, this is a red flag for many employers, and you could be denied getting a position.

Additional treatment possibilities include rehabilitation and other interventions. Addiction is a complex disease. Substance use disorders often negatively impact several areas of a person’s life, and may even lead to death. Fortunately, there are many ways for people to get the support they need to treat their addiction.

One resource includes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, this organization offers a national helpline (1-800-662-HELP) that’s available 24/7 as well as several ways to find treatment.

Drug Testing and Screening Made Easy with TOPLAB®

At TOPLAB®, we help providers and employers in New Jersey and nationwide perform necessary drug tests in their facilities. Using our online sample pickup/supply order form, test kits can be ordered from our lab. Employers and providers in New Jersey also have the option to schedule specimen pickups. For more information about toxicology screenings and the other services we provide, contact us today.