A swab drug test is a quick, noninvasive method for testing saliva for the presence of drugs. It can be administered without prior notice, and on-site results are often available in a matter of minutes. It’s a reliable test, but not perfect; sample contamination and variation in lab procedures can impact accuracy.
To take a swab drug test, the subject will usually be asked to tilt their head back and open their mouth. A health care provider will then use a swab to collect saliva from the back of the throat, or from underneath their tongue. The test is then analysed at the laboratory for the presence of drugs. The test is usually a PCR swab test, which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. It works by introducing a chemical to the sample, which then replicates and duplicates the original genetic material of the virus to produce billions of copies that can be detected by the swab test.
A swab drug test can detect a wide range of substances, including cocaine, opioids, marijuana (cannabis), amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. However, different drugs have varying detection windows. Frequent or chronic use of certain drugs, such as marijuana, can lead to longer detection periods due to the accumulation of metabolites in the body. For this reason, it’s important to abstain from any drug use for a period of time before taking a saliva drug test. This will increase the chances of passing the test.