Blood Drug Testing Facts
Here are a few drug testing facts you should be aware of before taking the blood test.
Blood-based drug testing is among the most invasive forms of drug testing and also virtually impossible to cheat. Part of this is because blood is drawn by a professional and under observation, but also because attempting to clear drug residues from your bloodstream, if possible, would be very technical and therefore very expensive. While it's possible that heavily sponsored athletes may have access to such technology, just about everyone else is going to need to rely on tips we provide below.
How accurate are blood-based drug tests?
Blood-based drug tests are considered the gold standard in many cases, especially because of how difficult they are to tamper with. Blood-based drug tests can also identify adulterants used to try to beat the test. Because blood tests can identify the original substance, and not just its metabolites, blood drug tests are used in monitoring the use of medicine, determining blood toxicity levels, and even employer drug tests.
Each type of drug test has different characteristics and the same is true for blood-based drug tests. While you may be worried because blood tests seem like the ultimate form of drug test, the important thing to understand is that they only detect substances in your blood stream. This may be a huge relief if you've used recreational drugs a few days before the test. Here's how long common drugs are typically cleared from the bloodstream:
- Cocaine: 12 hours (metabolites take up to 48 hours to clear)
- Codeine: up to 24 hours
- Marijuana: within 4 hours
- Synthetic Marijuana (K2/Spice): up to 48 hours
- Morphine: up to 3 days
- Fentanyl: up to 2 days
- Heroin: up to 6 hours
- Hydrocodone: up to 24 hours
- Methadone: up to 24 hours
- Oxycodone: up to 24 hours
- Propoxyphene: up to 10 days
- Tramadol: up to 2 days
Keep in mind that drugs of a certain class may vary in time required to clear based on amount used and the specific drug. Synthetic drugs are unpredictable and often especially dangerous, though the test may or may not detect their presence.
Why aren't blood drug tests as common as urine drug tests?
With the accuracy of blood drug tests being so high, you may wonder why they aren't the most commonly used. The simple answer is because they are some of the most expensive tests to perform. One of the reasons is that a qualified professional is required to draw blood and another is that the equipment needed to process the blood is also expensive. It's not practical for most employers except where high throughput tests are being performed or the employer is extremely concerned about the test accuracy (such as a job-site accident).
These are just a few of the things you should know about blood drug tests and how they work. Forewarned is forearmed, and the better you understand these tests, the better chance you’ll have of passing them. Contact us to learn more!