Is a Drug and Alcohol Swab Test Accurate? And What are Alternatives?

Drug and alcohol tests mainly help maintain workplace and roadside safety. Law enforcers and employers typically perform these tests to help prevent road and workplace accidents. A drug and alcohol test can identify potentially dangerous individuals with impairments. Alcohol consumption and drug use can cause various impairments. Drivers or employees under the influence could have problems with memory, vision, coordination, judgement, and reaction times (slowed). These impairments can drastically affect an individual’s ability to drive or operate machinery (while working). Therefore, there is a need to single out individuals that might have taken drugs or consumed alcohol. A drug and alcohol test safeguards people from the dangers of alcohol and drug use. With more frequent tests being provided by police officers and employers, many ask: Is a drug and alcohol swab test accurate? And what are the other tests available?

Yes, a drug and alcohol swab test are highly accurate and reliable. Although, it is worth noting that swab tests are mainly used for drug tests rather than alcohol tests. For roadside and workplace alcohol tests, law enforcers and employers would typically use a breathalyser. Breathalysers are alcohol testing devices that can accurately determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through your breath sample. BAC is the amount of alcohol (in grams) present in every 100ml of blood. A breathalyser’s only disadvantage is that it cannot detect drug use; breath tests are strictly for alcohol testing.

Drug and Alcohol Swab Test: Other Drug and Alcohol Tests Available

Workplaces and law officials can use a variety of drug tests that can also test for alcohol. These tests are similar to a swab test regarding what they can detect (drug and alcohol use). Furthermore, it is worth noting that some of these tests have different detection periods. Aside from a drug and alcohol swab test and a breathalyser breath test, the following tests are also possible: 

  • Blood test: This test is the most invasive of all the available tests. However, it is also the most accurate alcohol and drug screening test available. This test can determine the exact amount of alcohol consumed or the name of the drug used. Blood tests require a certified test collector and an accredited laboratory to process their results. This test is costly and time-consuming due to the requirements it has. (Detection period: 24-48 hours)
  • Urine Test: Drivers or employees need to “pee in a cup” during this test. The testing cup would typically contain a solution that changes colour or a set of lines that could indicate a “positive” or “negative” test result. Employers would generally prefer these tests over blood tests because urine samples are easier to collect. Moreover, this form of drug and alcohol testing is also more cost-efficient when compared to blood tests. (Detection period: 24-48 hours)
  • Hair Follicle Test: This test has the longest possible detectable period among other tests. This test can detect usage from 90 days ago. 


Accuracy Comparison

The differences between a drug and alcohol swab test accuracy and other forms of testing, aside from blood tests, are almost non-existent. A swab test, urine test, hair follicle test, and breath test have nearly similar results. However, for alcohol tests alone, breath tests are the best option because they can provide exact BAC readings. 

Drug and Alcohol Swab Test: What about Alcohol Tests?

A drug and alcohol swab test are perfect for those looking to test alcohol and drug use simultaneously. This situation typically happens in the workplace. However, for an alcohol test alone, a breath test through a breathalyser is the best method. Breathalysers can determine an individual’s exact BAC, which can help identify their current state and intoxication level. In most roadside screenings, police officers would often refer to a driver’s BAC to determine their next course of action. Drivers will be detained and fined if their BAC level is 0.05% or more. This is the legal alcohol limit set for drivers in New Zealand. Knowing the exact BAC can be beneficial for drivers and officers because it can determine the impairments present. For example, coordination and vision problems are present when a driver has a 0.06% BAC level.

Nowadays, to help improve road and workplace safety, there are now alcohol breath testers available for drivers and employers. Drivers can now purchase personal breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand, to help them monitor their intake. A personal breathalyser can allow individuals to take a test before driving, ensuring their safety. Would-be drivers can now make better and well-informed decisions. For example, individuals would know when to slow down their consumption or stop altogether. Knowing your exact BAC can help you decide if it is okay to drive. After consuming alcohol, a drug and alcohol swab test can help. However, if you’re sure you’ve only had alcohol, a breathalyser would suit perfectly. 


Drug and Alcohol Swab Test: Workplace Testing

A drug and alcohol swab test can drastically benefit any workplace in any industry. These tests can ensure that all employees are fit to work. Substances and alcohol use can have detrimental effects, especially on workplace productivity and safety. Employers would typically need to test for both alcohol and drugs because usage before or during work hours can always be possible. However, since alcohol is more commonly available and easily accessible, employers should be able to provide alcohol tests twice as much as drug tests. Employers can purchase and use a workplace breathalyser from Breathalysers New Zealand, for more cost-effective testing. Having a workplace breathalyser can allow employers to provide more frequent tests. Furthermore, since these devices are highly portable, on-site alcohol testing can be more manageable. Alcohol usage alone can lead to the following: 

  • High absenteeism
  • Loss of productivity
  • Lack of quality work
  • Disruptive behaviour
  • Tardiness

Why use the Breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand?

When testing for both drugs and alcohol, a drug and alcohol swab test can be as practical as a urine test. However, for alcohol testing alone, the BACtrack workplace and personal Breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand are far more capable of providing reliable tests than any other form of testing. These breathalysers feature professional-grade fuel cell sensors. These are the same sensors you could find in a police officer’s breathalyser. Moreover, these sensors are only sensitive to ethyl alcohol, reducing the likelihood of false-positive results. This accuracy can help test people who have diabetes or are on a low-calorie diet. Additionally, breath tests with BACtrack devices can be quick and easy. These devices only need 10 to 15 seconds to process your BAC results. Furthermore, all BACtrack devices feature one-button operations. This feature can allow users to effortlessly begin their breath tests with just a push of a button.