Alcohol and Drug Screening: What to Expect

Alcohol and Drug Screening: What to Expect

The purpose of toxicology screening is to reassure the good health and safety of the employees in the workplace.

Naturally, tests can be intimidating when you don’t know what to expect. The truth is, there is no reason to panic. Like everything else in life, when you inform yourself on the subject, it becomes less scary.

In this article, we break down the details about what to expect during an alcohol and drug screening.

How it works

Toxicology tests are useful to monitor or identify substance abuse. These tests identify if you have recently taken certain drugs — alcohol included. The tests do not identify the exact amount of drugs in your body, neither does it can tell how frequently the drug is used. Therefore, drug screening, although helpful, cannot solely determine if you have an addiction problem.

Time is an important factor in drug screening. Our bodies can eliminate some drugs quicker than others. For example, the remains of marijuana can be detected 3 weeks after use. In contrast, signs of alcohol don’t last — in the urine, saliva, and breath — 48 hours after consumption.

Drugs Identified in a Toxicology Test

Common types of substances tested in drug screening labs are: 

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates (methadone, heroin, oxycodone)
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Marijuana

Types of Drug Screening Tests

While the most common way of drug screening is by testing your blood or urine, there are more methods. Types of drug screening tests are:


A urine sample is collected in a small container. The lab tester will determine if the sample meets the standard criteria; if it doesn’t you will be required to provide another sample in the following 3 hours. The results are ready in 2–5 business days.


A lab tester will obtain a blood sample into one or more tubes. The blood test is the most accurate method when it comes to determining the estimated amount of drugs in our bodies. Results can be expected in 2 to 4 business days.

Oral Fluid

The test is convenient because of its quick delivery of accurate results. Usually, oral fluid drug testing is used for post-incident work situations.

The screening process consists of analyzing a sample of saliva. It can be done through two options:

  • Lab-Based Test. It takes about 2 to 5 business days for lab results to be ready. The results can be used in court.
  • Express Oral Fluid Test. The device where the saliva is analyzed will indicate when the results are ready. It usually takes about 5 minutes.

It is recommended to avoid gum, tobacco, or alcohol-based mouthwash before taking this test.


Scissors are used to collect a sample of 90 to 120 hairs with a length of 1.5'’ inches. The hair sample is usually taken from the head, but testers can also collect from areas like legs and armpits.

Lab results are ready in 5 to 10 business days.

How to Prepare for Drug Screening? 

  • Bring your official ID card (driver’s license, passport).
  • Inform your doctor about over-the-counter medicines and supplements that you are taking (some substances can compromise the results).
  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of water, otherwise, the urine might be diluted.

Results Interpretation

A positive or negative result will indicate whether there are one or more drugs in your body. If the results are positive, another test might be required to rule out a false positive. 

BASS Urgent Care provides trustworthy laboratory services, diagnosis, and treatment. Your health matters. Book your appointment with us today!