Saliva Drug Testing Facts
Here are a few drug testing facts you should be aware of before taking the saliva drug test.
Commonly referred to as a saliva, mouth swab or oral fluid drug test, a saliva drug test is one of the least invasive. For this reason, saliva drug tests are showing up on everything from employer drug tests to roadside drug testing by law enforcement. It just takes a quick cotton swab to the inside of the cheek to collect enough saliva to determine recent drug usage.
What does a saliva drug test screen for?
Saliva drug tests can screen for pretty much everything a urine test can screen for, but the detection period is much shorter than with a urine test. For common drugs, here are the maximum detection periods:
- alcohol (6-12 hours after use)
- amphetamine (for up to 1-5 days after use)
- barbiturates (up to 3 days after use)
- benzodiazepines (for up to 5-10 days after use)
- cocaine (up to 3 days after use)
- ecstasy (up to 2 days after use)
- marijuana (12 hours after use and up to 30 hours for heavy use)
- methamphetamine (up to 4 days for heavy use)
- nicotine and cotinine (up to 4 days after use)
- opioids (codeine, morphine, 6-acetylmorphine) (up to 2 days after use)
- phencyclidine (PCP) (up to 3 days after use)
Keep in mind that the above timeframes are generally worst case scenarios. Respected testing facilities like Labcorp do not represent to be able to detect chemicals in saliva after more than 48 hours from time of use. The less of a substance you've used, the quicker it will no longer be detectable in saliva, but if you are a heavy user of any of the above substances, then they are likely to be detectable in saliva for the longer time in the above ranges.
Are saliva drug tests accurate?
While some labs cite accuracy as high as 97%, a 2016 study of recreational drug use indicates that saliva drug tests are about 80% accurate for amphetamines, 67% for cocaine, 50% for opiates, and less than 25% for cannabis. This is good news if you are worried about failing a drug test. Without follow-up GC/MS analysis, it's also possible that your saliva is more likely to be result in a false positive.
Can I beat a saliva drug test?
There are definitely products on the market that claim to clear traces of drugs from your saliva. Considering that most labs recommend against eating or drinking anything at least 10 minutes before your test, it's possible that some of these might provide some success. However, it's also possible that they may lead to a false positive, since things like mouthwash often contain alcohol. Since saliva tests seem especially poor indicators of cannabis use, these products may rely more on the inaccuracy of the test than the effectiveness of the product. Your best chance of passing a saliva drug test is not to use drugs for at least one week before the test.
If you don't have a week to prepare in advance for your test, here are steps you can take to minimize your chance of testing positive:
- Immediately stop using drugs or illicit substances
- Drink lots of fluid, right up until the time of the test
- Brush your teeth at least 3 times daily, focusing on the gums, tongue, and cheeks
- Use non-alcoholic mouthwash
- Eat fatty foods to speed up drug metabolism
- Avoid poppy seeds and smoking for 48 hours before the test to avoid false positives
These are just a few of the things you should know about saliva 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!