Are drug testing kits accurate?

Last year we did a story on breathalysers you can purchase for home use and whether they were accurate, so we thought it was a good idea to also take a look at home drug test kits.

Firstly, a bit of background. We took a look online to see what was available and how much the home drug testing kits cost. Our simple research discovered that you can purchase drug testing kits for use at home that generally rely on samples of urine. Some test for a single drug, while others test for a number of drugs. Prices also vary, but you can pay less than $10.

So, are these home drug testing kits accurate?

There’s no definitive answer to this because, like most products, there is a great variety in the quality. Some kits are certainly not reliable, while other kits can be.

The other important aspect to consider is the quality of the testing process. If you don’t follow the instructions provided with the drug testing kit precisely, it doesn’t matter how good the quality of the drug testing kit you use, the result may well be flawed.

Remember, too, that legal medicines can also sway drug testing results. For example, heroine, codeine and oxycodone are all opiates. The first is illegal, but codeine and oxycodone are prescribed medicines, so if you take codeine or oxycodone for pain you may return a positive result for opiates. This is unlikely if you take codeine or oxycodone at prescribed doses and the drug testing methodology is sound, but at home with a drug testing kit… The result is anyone’s guess!

Perhaps the product information of one of these drug test kits best sums up the accuracy of drug testing kits you can purchase at home (brand and product name changed):

“The results obtained by this device should act as a guide only. Neither ABC Inc, its distributor or the manufacturer will accept any liability for any loss or injury sustained arising directly or indirectly as a result of any reliance placed on the results obtained.”

Clearly, if the manufacturer and seller of drug testing kits don’t guarantee results, you should not rely on them. That doesn’t mean they can’t be useful, but only use them as a guide.

A good example of this came recently in Tasmania when a mine worker used a urine drug testing kit that he had purchased from a pharmacist. The result was negative, so he thought he was okay to go to work, but the worker later recorded positive to cannabis when undertaking workplace drug testing.

The worker was sacked and although he took the case to the Fair Work Commission, the dismissal stood because the mine had a zero tolerance drug policy, had communicated this to the workforce and had followed correct procedures.

Home drug testing kits are freely available, but are they accurate?

Michael
About

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Thomastown and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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