How Does a Saliva Drug Test Work?

Swipe to the left
How Does a Saliva Drug Test Work?
By MediNat Australia 4 years ago 1370 Views

The use of saliva drug test kits in the workplace is increasing thanks to recent improvements to the technology and the fast, convenient way they are administered.

Saliva drug testing will only detect more recent drug use, generally within the last 6-24 hours, depending on the drug. Saliva drug testing is considered faster and less invasive but detects a fewer range of drugs to urine and blood testing.

The Procedure

When administering a saliva drug test under your company drug and alcohol policy and guidelines, you must use a trained technician certified HLTPAT005 to collect specimens for drugs of abuse testing. This technician uses an absorbent swab, much like a large cotton bud, to collect saliva from the tongue and inside the cheek of the person being tested.

The technician may ask the employee being tested to take the swab and run it over the inside of their cheek and tongue while being supervised. This is less invasive than having someone do it for you. Once the swab has collected enough saliva, the sample can be tested

How Saliva Drug Tests Work

The saliva drug testing kit uses a biochemical process known as enzyme immunoassay to detect the presence of drugs. The kit screens for the presence of a parent drug, such as amphetamines, in the drug metabolites which are compounds resulting from the metabolism of the drug.

Using a process called ‘competitive binding’ any drug metabolites for the drugs that are being tested for will be detected, and a non-negative result will only occur if the parent drug concentration exceeds the predetermined cut-off level. A non-negative result will need to be confirmed as positive at the laboratory using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests.

What Drugs Can Be Detected?

The type of drugs that will be detected depends on the type and sophistication of the saliva drug test kit being used. Many of the newer types can detect amphetamines, methamphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, opiates, cannabis that have been used as recently as 6-24 hours ago.  

The Advantages of a Saliva Drug Test

Saliva drug tests provide the shortest detection times making them the best choice for testing when you have reasonable suspicion that an employee is under the influence of illicit drugs.

It’s almost impossible to tamper with a saliva test because they’re fully supervised, and their accuracy is close to 99%. Like urine drug testing, saliva tests are conducted in full privacy away from other employees.

Reliable Saliva Drug Testing for Australian Organisations

View the full range of saliva drug tests available at MediNat Australia. All our test kits are made according to strict Australian standards and can reliably detect recent drug use by employees. If you’d like someone to carry out on-site testing in your workplace, our team can arrange for that.

Call us on 1300 725 520, email us at or contact us online to speak to one of our team members about the benefits of using saliva drug tests in your business.