The National Institute on Drug Abuse has estimated that the total cost of illicit drug abuse to society is more than $193 billion a year, a significant chunk of the entire economic output of the USA. The costs aren’t just direct: in fact, only about $11 billion is spent every year on the medical side-effects of drug use. Instead, most of the cost arises from the negative impact that drug use has on an individual’s behavior.
Recently, there has been a debate about the relative advantages of oral fluid testing over traditional urine testing. Urine testing has long been the workplace standard and is used in many federal agencies, like the Department of Transportation. As a result, it has become an institution in itself, having a long and rich history. But there’s now a growing chorus of voices out there who would like to see it superseded by something more effective.
Fewer Privacy Issues
Oral fluid testing has emerged as a strong competitor to traditional urine testing for a number of compelling reasons. Perhaps the most important is the fact that it affords businesses and organizations a convenient and gender-neutral way to collect specimens. Unlike with urine tests, organizations don’t have to provide private spaces to collect samples.
The other reason why businesses are switching to oral fluid testing comes down to the fact that it can be used to detect drug abuse there and then. The problem with urine testing is that even though it can detect whether a person has consumed drugs in the last several days, it can’t determine whether a person is currently under the influence. Oral fluid tests, on the other hand, detect recent drug use, meaning that if somebody tests positive to an oral drug test, it is highly likely that they are currently experiencing the effects of illicit substances on their body. In general, oral fluid tests can tell whether a person has ingested drugs in the previous 4-24 hours.
The cost of drug misuse is high, both in terms of the social costs, and the costs for organizations. Those who are under the influence of illicit substances can behave in ways that are damaging both to themselves and the people with whom they come into contact. For this reason, oral fluid tests are seen to have cost advantages that go well beyond the mere low price of the testing kits. Not only is the price of kits low, but the financial benefits of preventing drug-using workers continue with their work is high, given the damage they could potentially cause. Oral tests tend to be more economical too because there is no need for a separate rest room for collection or gender-specific staff to process the samples, both of which can take up a lot of time.
Lower Risk Of Adulteration
The final key benefit of oral fluid testing is the fact that it is much more difficult to tamper with than a urine sample. Whereas urine samples are taken privately, oral fluid samples can be taken publicly with witnesses.