Can you trust a saliva drug test?

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There are numerous types of tests that target marijuana users. Although 90% of the drug screenings are administered through Urinalysis or a urine test, the situation is changing with the saliva tests coming into the play. They provide similar results to that of urine or a blood test and are favorite for post-accident testing or on-the-job drug use.

Mouth swab tests are becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace, and one of the biggest challenges a marijuana user may face nowadays, but many people still have concerns about their reliability. In fact, the main reason why saliva tests are preferred these days is that they are, for the most part, complicated to adulterate.    

What can a saliva drug test detect?

A Saliva drug test can detect up to 14 different drugs:

  • Synthetic Marijuana (K2/Spice)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Oxycodone (OXY)
  • Opiates (OPI)
  • Methamphetamines (mAMP)
  • Methadone (MTD)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Fentanyl (FEN)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Buprenorphine (BUP)
  • Benzodiazepines (BZO)
  • Barbiturates (BAR)
  • Amphetamines (AMP)
  • Alcohol (ALC)

How is the saliva drug test performed?

  1. You will be provided with a cotton swab component of the saliva test. It can be anything from a lollipop or a sponge. The aim is to take your saliva sample for the drug test.
  2. Next, you will be instructed to rub the swap component against your cheeks or under your tongue until adequate saliva specimen is collected. It usually takes around 2 minutes to complete the mouth swabbing.
  3. You will be asked to return the saturated swab component to the collector. The collector will then insert the soaked swab into the collection container in order to run the test panels.  
  4. It will take around 10 minutes for your saliva to saturate the panels. Once the panels are saturated, they will reveal colored lines, indicating the negative or positive drug test results.

Can you pass a saliva drug test?

The reason saliva drug tests can’t be adulterated is why a significant number of employers have issued it for pre-employment screening, on-the-job drug use detection, post-accident testing, and more.

Most people don’t understand the integrity and accuracy of saliva drug tests. Even forums and websites advocating the methods of adulterating a saliva drug test don’t get it.

  • Drinking plenty of water will not work
  • Sucking on breath mints or applying minty toothpaste will not work
  • Hydrogen peroxide mouthwash will not work
  • Raking the tongue with a toothbrush will also not work

Are saliva drug tests accurate?

According to numerous studies, saliva tests may not reliably detect the presence of THC – the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

The Walsh Group researchers in Bethesda, Maryland tested the reliability of the ten oral fluids devices for detecting numerous controlled substances including THC.

The fluid specimens were taken at cutoff concentrations recommended by the manufacturers. It was found that out of the ten devices examined, six came up with either false negative or false positive test results in THC. 

Researchers suggest that although the testing technologies for THC are improving, accurate detection of the substance remains problematic.


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