Does oral fluid drug testing detect alcohol as well as illegal drugs?

By John Hawes | Last updated: January 16, 2019

Oral fluid drug testing is used to detect the presence of substances such as drugs, alcohol, steroids, or viruses in a person's saliva. Oral fluid drug testing is popular with employers because it offers an efficient, non-invasive method of testing employees for illicit drug use. An oral fluid testing device may screen for a single drug or a panel, or set, of drugs. For workplace testing, this panel usually includes marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamine and methamphetamine, and PCP. Employers may opt to use an oral fluid test that includes additional drugs or alcohol. In other words, the short answer is yes, oral fluid drug testing can detect alcohol depending on the specific test used.

Alternately, a separate oral fluid alcohol test may be administered to test solely for the presence of ethanol. While some rapid point of collection (POC) oral fluid testing devices that offer instant results are available, most oral fluid drug tests are laboratory-based. A laboratory-based oral fluid drug test uses enzyme-linked immunoassay technology to screen a saliva specimen for selected substances. Tests that indicate a positive result following the immunoassay evaluation are confirmed using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) or similar analysis. The substance or substances detected by a specific oral fluid test will depend on the type of test administered.

An employer's drug-free workplace policy or other written documentation may provide information about what specific test types will be used for employee drug screening.

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Drug Testing Workplace Testing 101 Alcohol Testing Oral Fluid Testing Lab Test Marijuana Opiates Employment

Written by John Hawes

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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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