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Drug & Alcohol Testing

DATCS is one of the leading National substance abuse managers in the United States. We have built a reputation as the educators in our industry and we truly believe that drug testing saves lives and money, while protecting our workplace, communities and schools.

After 29 years of implementing drug and alcohol programs, we have discovered that some of the most common types of specimens used in the drug testing industry are: Urine, Hair, Breath, Oral Fluids and Nails.

Alcohol abuse is a significant health and economic concern in the United States today, costing American industry over $233 billion annually. More than 50% of child custody cases involve alcohol and drug abuse as a factor for judges to consider.

Drug Testing

Reasons for drug testing:

  • 75% of drug users are employed
  • 40% of all users will steal from your organization
  • 38% of work-related accidents are drug & alcohol users
  • 60% of drug users will sell to other employees
  • 3 times more sick days, 8 times more hospital days, 16 times more absences due to employee drug use
  • 20% of people killed at work test positive for drugs
  • A generation ago only 10% of children age 12 were exposed in one way or another to drugs of abuse. Today, it is approaching 50%. The younger a person is exposed to drugs, the higher the chance to become addicted as adults.
  • Drug testing is tax deductible
  • Peace of mind is knowing you have a drug-free workplace, community and school!

DER OUTLINE : pdf Click here to download (233 KB)

Q & A:

(Q) What is the preferred specimen type for workplace drug-testing programs?

(A) There is no clear-cut answer.  Employers should evaluate the various testing methods to determine which specimen type best meets the needs of their organization.

The choice depends on a variety of factors:

  • DOT mandates urine testing (as of today)
  • Level of risk tolerance
  • Cost
  • Detection period (How far you want to go back in time)
  • Type of testing required (Pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, follow-up or return-to-duty)
  • Method required by company policy
  • Individual needs
  • Court Testing

If you must follow the Department of Transportation Federal Program Guidelines, urine is the only available screening method available to you at this time. Changes are coming, however, and DATCS will keep you informed about these changes

The different specimen choices can be very confusing.  Each method of testing has its own strengths and weaknesses--DATCS can help you develop and customize a drug program to fit your needs.

(Q)How does hair testing compare to urinalysis?

(A) Hair and Nail testing have the longest detection period and are the most popular for court ordered drug testing.

Pros for Hair:

  1. Wider window of detection (up to 90 days)
  2. No shy bladder incidents
  3. Inability to tamper with the test
  4. Higher rate of positive results
  5. Good test for cocaine detection
  6. Suitable for pre-employment due to detection window

Cons for Hair:

  1. Relatively high cost
  2. Takes approximately 5 to 10 days from the time of drug use for detection
  3. Longer turnaround times
  4. Challenging when donor has shaved or is void of head/body hair

Pros for Urine:

  1. Inexpensive
  2.  Proven track record
  3. Approved for federal testing (including Department of Transportation)               
  4. Applicable for a variety of testing reasons including---pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, follow-up and return-to-duty screening
  5.  Dependable
  6. Wider range of drugs available to test for

Cons for Urine:

  1. Vulnerable to adulteration (cheating)
  2. Difficulty in providing a sample (Shy bladder)
  3. Shorter detection period

(Q) Which specimen has the shortest detection period?

(A) Oral fluid drug testing has the shortest drug detection times.

The chart below gives approximate detection periods for each drug tested. Drug use history varies with each drug tested. The ranges in amount and frequency of use, metabolic rate, body mass, age, overall health, and drug tolerance are determining factors.

Drug Cutoff Level Approximate Detection Time in Oral fluid
Amphetamine 1,000 ng/mL 1-3 days
Cocaine 300 ng/mL 1-3 Days
Methamphetamine 1,000 ng/mL 1-3 Days
Opiates 2,000 ng/mL 1-3 Days
Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL 1-3 Days
THC 50 ng/mL 6-12 Hours

Pros for Oral Fluid

  1. Makes mobile collections easier because no bathroom is needed
  2. Eliminates a three hour wait for a shy bladder
  3. Makes adulteration significantly harder for donors since it is collected under direct observation
  4. Has a narrow but immediate detection window, making it a natural choice for reasonable suspicion testing and for post-accident testing
  5. Lab-based testing for oral fluids has proven to be scientifically accurate (equivalent to urine)

Cons for Oral fluid

  1. Does not detect illicit drug use beyond 48 hours
  2. Cannot measure frequency of use
  3. Not currently approved for federal testing (SAMHSA is in the process of  defining rules to incorporate it in future federal testing.)
  4. Limited on the type of drugs tested

(Q) If my company does not fall under federal drug testing, how many drugs should I test for?

(A) Results from more than 5.5. million drug tests reveal an 18% jump in opiate positives in the general U.S. workforce in a single year. Schedule 11 opioids increased by a staggering 380%.  Depending on your company policy, and the type of work your company does, these laboratory statistics suggest using a 10 panel with expanded opiates to cover the abuse of these prescription drugs. Drugs below are the most abused drugs in the workplace:

THC (Marijuana)
Phencyclidine (PCP)
MDMA (Ecstasy)


(Q) What is the detection period for nail testing and how is it done?

(A)  Fingernails and toenails can show between 8 to 12 months of drug history.  It is best to gather 100 milligrams of specimen for testing.  Clipping from 2 to 3 millimeters off all fingernails and toenails should equal 100 milligrams. 

(Q) How do you implement a drug program for a company?

Before you begin to test employees, it is critical that your company has a drug/alcohol testing policy. State drug testing laws may mandate substance testing for some businesses (exceptions being ones that fall under US DOT).  A policy enforces consistency and can prevent litigation regarding drug tests resulting in termination and in other sensitive matters. DATCS can guide you in state drug testing laws.

There are 6 key steps to making any organization an active drug-free workplace:

  • A sound, up-to-date comprehensive drug and alcohol policy
  • Pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up drug testing
  • In-house employee assistance program or an up-to-date resource referral list
  • Supervisor training on the indicators of drug and alcohol abuse, and a reasonable suspicion incident
  • Ongoing employee education
  • A trained DER in charge of the random program

DATCS gives free training for the DER (designated employee representative) in charge of the company’s drug program.

If your company does not have a policy in place and you’re not exactly sure how to develop one yourself, the professionals at DATCS will be happy to assist you. In fact, we offer a model policy that can be customized to your specifications.

These services are a business expense and are 100% tax deductible, so setting up a drug and alcohol testing program makes sense in today’s world. Encouraging your employees to remain drug free protects your organization, your employees and your community, and saves you money!

Alcohol Testing

In the workplace, the reasons for alcohol testing are:

Pre-employment, random, post-accident, return-to-duty, follow-up, and reasonable suspicion testing

Courts today are testing for alcohol through the urine, breath, hair, nails, or blood (invasive procedure). 

Urine indicates alcohol consumption within three days of collection. EtG (Ethyl-Glucuronide can be detected in urine up to 80 hours after consumption). EtG  is a minor metabolite  of ethanol (alcohol) produced by the conjugation of ethanol with glucuronic acid. When alcohol is ingested, EtG is quickly created.

Nail & Hair indicate multiple occurrences of high alcohol consumption with 3 months

Breath alcohol detection has many variables to determine the length of time. Weight, gender, consumption, and other factors are important.  DOT regulations say no more attempts to test breath alcohol after 8 hours for a required post-accident.

DATCS offer a variety of professional breath alcohol testers for workplace testing and law enforcement. Please click below for testing supplies and equipment.


(Q) What is the best method for alcohol testing?

(A) Alcohol testing in the workplace is usually done by breath or saliva. Alcohol blood testing is generally too invasive for the workplace.

Saliva alcohol testing is for screening negative results only. These results from an alcohol screening device will not give you the exact levels of alcohol concentration if the (ASD) is 0.02 or higher. Under 49 CFR part 40 of the Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing programs, you must confirm a non-evidential (ASD) saliva test showing over 0.02 alcohol by an approved breathalyzer machine test.

Traditional screening methods have their limitations, such as a relatively short window of detection. An alcohol test for EtG, a biomarker test that can detect the presence of ethyl glucuronide in variety of specimen types, promises a much wider window of detection and is becoming more popular among potential users in the criminal justice, treatment and workplace markets.

EtG (Ethyl glucuronide) Testing is often required in child custody agreements before visitation is allowed and requires a laboratory test that can detect the substance up to 80 hours after consumption.

To implement a drug testing program…

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Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance Services, Drug Testing, Longview, TX

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