Why We Should Support Saliva Drug Testing

Did you know that two thirds of prison inmates use illegal drugs? A third of the inmates also admit that they were under the influence of illegal drugs when they committed the crime. Estimates also show that two thirds of those involved in fatal highway accidents are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With such high coincidence levels of drug use and illegal activity, it is only obvious that testing for drugs in prison is a regular routine.

Current Drug Testing

Saliva drug testing is still not as widespread as urine drug testing. In most cases the samples that are used are blood or urine, both of which have issues in terms of collection. While obtaining the blood sample requires the use of a needle increasing chances of infection, the urine sample needs to be obtained in the presence of an official. The blood sample also needs to be collected by a trained professional if the process has to be done correctly. Having to urinate in a cup while someone is watching is uneasy and distasteful. In contrast, a saliva drug test requires a saliva sample that can be obtained extremely easily. For a large organization that spends a lot on drug testing, you can imagine that the resources saved by switching to saliva would be pretty significant.

The Saliva Drug Test

A comprehensive saliva drug testing study was conducted by the Center of Human Toxicology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. One of the most interesting finds of the study was that not only does a saliva drug test indicate the presence of illegal drugs the concentrations in saliva also correspond to blood concentration, something that can help in developing benchmarks.

There are various benefits of saliva drug testing. The most important of these is the ease with which the sample can be obtained. The process is clean and the saliva sample can be collected by spitting or collection in a dental swab. And with this easy sample, illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine and amphetamines and more can be detected.

Challenges in Saliva Drug Testing

Collection of saliva is far easier than urine or blood. However, it does have its share of issues. Tampering of the sample used for drug testing is a common aspect of prison testing. It is therefore imperative that a test be developed to check the level of dilution that may have been done to a tampered sample.

While these small adjustments need to be made in saliva drug testing, it is only a matter of time when these challenges and issues would have been met and resolved. In that case, moving onto a saliva sample for inmate drug testing would be an easier, more comfortable and less taxing task for the prison staff and management.

Article by Anne Hamilton