The most common specimen collected for drugs of abuse screening is urine since, in general, it reflects drugs consumed in the past few days. Although the method of obtaining urine samples is, overall, a simple, easy, and quick process, there are also many ways to tamper or alter the sample to try to get a negative result. Luckily the process of checking for nitrates in urine, otherwise known as Specimen Validity Testing, can help restore the integrity of drug screening. To put it simply, Specimen Validity Testing (SVT) tests a urine drug screen to check that it is a clean, unaltered, valid sample. SVTs are designed to check for methods of substitution, dilation, and adulteration of specimens. We discuss this in detail below.
Specimen Validity Tests Detection Methods
- Substitution – Anytime a specimen is provided that is not urine, or not consistent with the characteristics of human urine. Often this is water that is altered to possibly mimic a urine sample and usually is identified through excessive creatinine, a natural compound produced by the kidneys found in urine, or through specific gravity testing, the measurement of the density of a liquid compared to water.
- Dilution – A diluted result can occur after ingesting large amounts of fluids before a test. By doing this, individuals are attempting to dilute their urine. In this case, the creatinine numbers will be outside the normal range and specific gravity measurement would be decreased. Although not typically unusual, an exceptionally abnormal result could prompt a further look.
- Adulteration – The process of adding a chemical substance to the sample after specimen collection. The goal of adulteration of the sample is to mask or destroy the presence of drugs in the sample. Adulterants can range from chemical additives, household cleaners, and even table salt. Lots of adulterants are readily available in peoples’ homes, so monitoring your drug screenings will also help eliminate the use of these products.
Specimen Validity Tests should be performed in conjunction with drug screenings. Scheduling mass-scale testing will provide you with the best results, giving you a “normal” baseline, you can use to spot out the deviations. Using SVTs ensures a successful, more effective way to monitor drug use in your organization.
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