Different Drug Test Specimens: Determining the Presence of Drugs

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Drug abuse is a public health problem all over the world and the number of individuals battling substance abuse and addiction has increased in recent years.

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has shown that almost 20 million adults in the United States had a substance abuse disorder in 2017. This costs the country $740 billion every year in productivity, crime, and healthcare expenses.

To keep the workplace and the society safe, drug testing has become mandatory in some states. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are different drug testing methods in the U.S. and these include random drug testing, pre-employment drug testing, cause testing, post-accident testing, follow-up testing, and return-to-duty testing.

The specimen to be used depends on the type of drug to be tested. Read more about the commonly abused drugs in the country in this article.

Specimens for Drug Testing


Urine is the most popular and widely used specimen for drug testing. Since urine is a waste product produced by the body in large quantities, it is a convenient choice for a drug testing specimen. A large volume of urine can be collected from every patient and a high concentration of drugs can be easily detected.

Urine is dependable, inexpensive to collect, and can detect drug metabolites within 4-72 hours of drug use. It is also approved for federal and DOT testing.

One of the down sides of a urine specimen is that it’s prone to cheating and manipulation, since the collection process is generally not observed. To avoid these, strict measures and guidelines are imposed during collection.


Drug testing using the patient’s hair as the specimen is best for scheduled screenings such as pre-employment. Unlike urine, wherein the detection window is only 4-72 hours, drugs can be detected in the hair for up to 90 days after drug use. It can also reveal the history and pattern of drug use.

Hair testing comes at a higher cost and although it has a long detection window, it takes around 5-10 days from the time of drug use to detect the presence of drugs in the hair. If you’re not sure where to get a hair test, Ritecare Medical Center in Hialeah offers reliable and affordable hair collection for alcohol and drug testing.

Oral fluid

Oral fluid is collected using a swab or absorbent pad. Spitting or expectoration into tubes is also an option. Although the fluid produced by the oral mucosa is generally termed as saliva, the mouth produces a mixture of different fluids, not just saliva. Hence, the appropriate term is oral fluid.

Oral fluid is inexpensive, very easy to collect and almost impossible to tamper during supervised collection. It has a short detection window of up to 48 hours from drug use. Results are almost immediate, making it a good choice for reasonable suspicion or cause drug testing. Unfortunately, it can no longer detect drug use beyond 48 hours and is still not approved for federal testing.

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Learn more about drug test in Hialeah

RiteCare Urgent Medical Center in Hialeah manages drug-testing programs, which are fully compliant with the ever-changing federal regulations that supervise every phase of testing. Our drug screens are collected by trained and certified drug screen collectors.

RiteCare Medical Center also offers consultation, policy development, and supervisor training. If you would like further information about the drug test programs in Hialeah, or if you have any questions, please contact us or call us today at (305) 200-1225. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.