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The Evolution of Drug Testing – New Technologies and Advanced Screening Methods

The Evolution of Drug Testing

Drug testing has been around for decades. However, the landscape of drug testing has changed. This is thanks to technology and advanced screening methods. Let’s take a look at some of the new technologies and advanced screening methods being used today.

Many countries have since adopted some form of mandatory or voluntary workplace drug screening programs. The most common form is basic urine analysis. This simple test usually detects if drugs are present and can even be done with a rapid test. While this type of test has been fairly accurate in recent years, the labs have even more accurate systems, as you might expect.  

Employers must take extra precautions when conducting screenings/tests at their businesses. This can add potential issues with false positive results due to improper sampling techniques. It’s always best to have a certified lab do your specimen gathering for you. As there are proper procedures and techniques from regulators. This ensures that your specimen is collected properly, labeled properly, and follows these guidelines for complete accuracy.  

Immunoassay Testing and GCMS

With the advancement in technology, we have seen some amazing things start to develop. Immunoassay testing and GCMS (Gas Chromatography compiled with Mass Spectrometry) are two that are very important in the drug testing world. These tests are far more accurate than the old style of testing. They can determine not only if a person has used drugs or alcohol recently but in the past as well. GCMS, for example, can detect both the presence of metabolites and specific drugs. In other words, it can detect drugs that are in the system but haven’t been completely digested yet. Metabolites are what is left behind once the drugs are digested and processed by the body. 

In fact, GCMS is so sophisticated that it is the required test of the DOT should someone fail the basic positive and negative tests given.  

Rapid urine drug tests have their place, but they are simply a tool to screen for those that have done drugs and alcohol in the past. They are fast and affordable. In fact, many times, you can have an answer in a matter of minutes for some of the rapid tests out there. However, GCMS is considered the “gold standard” of drug testing. This is due to its pinpoint accuracy but also because it’s quite expensive to run.  

A Closer Look at GCMS

GCMS combines gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS) to separate and identify compounds in a sample based on their physical and chemical properties. This process involves an injection port, columns, a detector, and a computer to obtain detailed information about unknown compounds in the sample. The GC separates individual components from complex mixtures, while MS identifies them based on their molecular weight or structure.

The accuracy of GCMS makes it the preferred method for many laboratories when analyzing unknown compounds or confirming results from other methods, such as immunoassay tests. It can detect trace amounts of drugs even when they are present at very low levels. This makes it ideal for drug testing applications where accuracy is critical.

Overall, GCMS provides an accurate way to detect substances even when present at very low levels. 

What are Immunoassay Tests?

Immunoassay tests are laboratory procedures that use antibodies to detect and quantify various substances in bodily fluid samples. They can be performed on blood, urine, and saliva, among other fluids, to identify different drugs found within a person’s system.

For drug testing applications, immunoassay technology is particularly important. Standard toxicology screens may not detect many drugs, but immunoassays can detect even small amounts of substances due to their high sensitivity.

It’s important to understand the limitations associated with immunoassay testing. For example, they may not be effective at detecting some drug types due to their low sensitivity or cross-reactivity with other substances present. This may lead to inaccurate results. If a positive is questioned after an immunoassay exam, it is recommended that the sample be run through the GCMS for further testing. This is why it’s so important that patients disclose anything they have been taking, such as prescription medications, OTC medications, and herbal supplements. While many tests using immunoassay technology are quite accurate, there isn’t anything that compares to the GCMS.

Understanding How Immunoassay Technology Is Used to Test for Drugs

Immunoassay technology revolutionizes drug testing in labs by using antibodies to detect drugs in the body, offering a fast and reliable method with high sensitivity. Various immunoassays, such as ELISA and CLIA, are available for qualitative or quantitative test results. Data analysis from this technology provides valuable information on drug interactions. It can also provide concentration levels, improving future treatments and public health issues related to drugs. This type of technology is perfect for doctors looking to see how the doses are working for their patients. 

Other Advanced Technologies Used in Drug Testing Labs

Drug testing labs are always searching for innovative and advanced technologies to improve their work. GCMS and immunoassay tests are frequently used technologies. However, drug testing labs have a wide range of cutting-edge technologies available to them.

Automation has proven to be advantageous for drug testing labs. It reduces the amount of time spent on manual analysis and increases accuracy. Automated sample preparation, such as automated pipetting systems, can significantly reduce sample handling mistakes by ensuring precise delivery of samples into instruments or wells.

With these advances, we expect to see new ways developed to increase efficiency while minimizing errors across the board at drug testing labs.  

Wolfe Inc.

Drug testing has come a long way since its inception. With the advent of new technologies and advanced screening methods, it is now easier than ever to test for drugs with high accuracy and efficiency. Employers should stay informed about the different types of drug tests available. This will help them to understand the legal implications in order to make an educated decision. Wolfe Inc. offers a variety of cutting-edge solutions that can help employers quickly detect drug use through various methods. Call Wolfe Inc. at 800-230-2991 today to find out more.