Drug and Alcohol Testing

All you need to know about Drug and Alcohol Testing

Drug and alcohol testing has become more and more commonplace over the last few years. Many employers now routinely test their employees for illegal and prescription drugs – as well as alcohol, as a means of improving safety within the workplace.

On-site drug testing kits are also used in drug treatment centres to monitor abstinence, or to check compliance with prescriptions. It is increasingly more frequent for parents or partners to use home drug testing kits for their children or other family members to detect and therefore deter drug use in the home.

Common Types of Drug Testing :

Common Types of Alcohol Testing :

  • Saliva Alcohol Test Kits
  • Disposable Breathalyser Units
  • Electronic Breath Alcohol Test Kits

On-Site Urine Drug Testing

Urine test kits are commonplace in many rehabilitation centres, hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and businesses. They allow you to test a urine sample for a range of the most commonly abused drugs and give results in minutes to laboratory screening standards. Results can be read within 5 minutes and detect drug use from the last few days – this is dependant on the drug.

The obvious advantage of doing an on-site test is the speed at which you can get a negative result. However, if the result is positive, it is essential to get confirmation from an accredited laboratory before taking any action against the donor, for example if the result will affect their employment or status on a rehabilitation programme.

A two stage process, such as advised above, will stand up in court (assuming Chain of Custody procedures have been followed) but will still have the advantage of speed.

Visit our drug test kits page for more information on the drug testing kits that we offer.

Laboratory Urine Drug Testing

Laboratory drug testing has the advantage that both the screening stage and the confirmation stages of the test are carried out in one place. Many laboratory procedures are automated and the turn-around times are typically 1 day for screening results and a further 1-3 days for the confirmation results to be finalised. Laboratory drug screening tends to be considerably more expensive than on-site drug testing, but the LC/MS/MS or GC/MS confirmation process is necessary to create an evidential result. This also creates an appeals process for the donor being tested and eliminates the possibility of cross reacting medications affecting the test results. Visit our laboratory drug testing page for more details.

Hair Drug Testing

Hair drug testing has one main advantage, in that it can detect drug use (or abstinence) for a longer period of time. This is often measured in months, as we can test back for as long as the hair has been growing. Hair typically grows at an average of about 1cm per month. Therefore a 3cm section of hair would represent approximately a 3 month history. You can test longer sections of hair to get an overall idea of drug use history, or individual monthly sections of hair to get a detailed chronological history of drug use (or abstinence).

A hair drug test does take longer than either urine testing or saliva testing because the hair needs to be processed before it can be tested. We therefore have to charge a processing fee, followed by a charge per drug, per section. Hair testing usually takes around a week to complete, although we do ask customers to allow up to ten working days for results.

Visit our Hair Drug Test page or contact us for details or for any further information.

Oral / Saliva Drug Tests

Oral fluid or Saliva Drug Testing is designed to be as non-invasive as possible – which is part of its appeal for those collecting the sample. For example you might need to test members of staff on-site where there are no toilet facilities, or perhaps you have a group who can all be tested en masse in an induction type setting.

Unlike urine testing, there isn’t currently an international standard for point of care Saliva Test cut-off levels, meaning that results could vary dependant on what brand of test they use. This can affect how evidential the saliva testing process is, unless it is backed up by urine testing in the event of a positive test.

Another potential drawback is that while drug use is detectable in urine for days and in hair for months, saliva drug testing only detects drug use over a matter of hours (for many drugs, this is under a day). A person needs a fairly high level of drugs in their body for it to be detected in their mouth in sufficient quantities to be positive. This would make monitoring abstinence more difficult. As an example, someone who used heroin yesterday is quite likely to test negative today on an oral drug test kit, but would test positive on a urine drug test.

Another advantage of carrying out Saliva Drug Testing is that it acts as a great deterrent for drug abuse among staff members, especially if they are aware that these take place regularly and randomly.

Surface Drug Detection Wipes

Workplaces and public areas can also test their environment for drug abuse using our Cocaine Surface Drug Detection Wipes. These easy to use, postcard sized wipes are very handy in detecting the use of, or handling of, cocaine or crack cocaine.

Simply wipe over any surface which you think may potentially have come into contact with as little as a trace of cocaine residue and look to see if the wipe turns blue immediately.

Many companies use them to look for cocaine use in company bathrooms, lockers, desks, vehicles etc. Please note: These wipes are a screening test for information purposes only. Any preliminary positive results must be confirmed by an alternative method before any action can be taken.

Saliva Alcohol Test Kits

Our Saliva alcohol test kits are a simple test strip that indicates the level of alcohol present in the body. It measures from zero tolerance levels to several times over the UK Legal Drink Drive Limit by using a colour chart system to grade the results. These alcohol tests are commonly used by customers who are involved in healthcare, due to their ease of use, economical price and their ability to measure blood alcohol levels. They can also be used in a urine sample (with a small adjustment to the colour chart).

Disposable Breathalyser Units

Our Breath Alcohol Test Kits are an adaptation of the basic roadside breathalysers that have been used by the British Police Forces for several decades. It uses white/grey crystals which turn pink/red in the presence of alcohol in an individual’s breath. These units test in accordance with the UK Legal Drink Drive Limit and are most frequently used by our corporate customers when carrying out pre-employment, random or accident based employee alcohol testing. They are helpful when many simultaneous testing locations are required, and where it would be cost-prohibitive to have electronic units at each location.

Electronic Breath Alcohol Test Kits (Non-Evidential)

The Alcomate Professional Digital Breathalyser uses a full 5 second sampling with FlowCheck technology for maximum accuracy. The LCD screen displays blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and is used by healthcare and business professionals worldwide.

  • Simple to use, single button operation
  • Quick refresh times for repetitive testing with minimal wait times
  • Full UK Based Warranty 
  • Power efficient – 2 x AA batteries included (200 breath tests)
  • No need to send away for calibrating – simply replace the sensor every 300 tests / 12 months
  • Non-Evidential – Urine sample would need to be taken and sent for laboratory confirmation before disciplinary action could be taken

Breath Alcohol Test Kit (Evidential)

  • The Alcometer 500 is simple to use and is fully automatic
  • Breath alcohol readings are shown on a large, easy to read illuminated graphic display
  • The last breath alcohol test result can be recalled at any time
  • The Alcometer 500 has evidential capabilities
  • Pocket sized, easy to manage and portable
  • Full UK Based Warranty 
  • Power efficient – includes 2 x AAA batteries (400 breath tests)
  • A zero alcohol level result will appear within around 5 seconds, anything above this will appear within 30 seconds.

Did you know we also offer training in drug testing and drug awareness? Contact us for further information.

So why choose MHE for your Drug Testing requirements?

At MHE, we take great pride in providing an unrivalled, comprehensive service when it comes to drug and alcohol testing. We are the friendly experts and our team have over 20 years’ experience in our field. We are happy to assist with pre-employment testing, random, accident or incident based testing or for cause. We can provide equipment, lab services and the training to use it, or else attend site as an on-site drug testing service – all to suit your needs. Contact us today for more information.

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