How Does Drug and Alcohol Testing Help Ensure the Safety of Individuals in Treatment?

Two people looking at a chart on a computer screen.

How Does Drug and Alcohol Testing Help Ensure the Safety of Individuals in Treatment?

Depending on the severity of one’s condition, it can be difficult for some individuals to maintain abstinence from harmful substances. It can be especially hard due to unwanted triggers and intense cravings related to their addiction. However, drug and alcohol testing can keep individuals and their families safe. Choosing to move forward with professional care can help one maintain long-term sobriety and gain mental stability for a positive future. 

The Importance of Staying Abstinent from Drugs and Alcohol

Addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions can significantly impair one’s life. Untreated substance use disorder (SUD) does not only affect the individual’s life but the loved ones involved in their addiction as well. For example, SUD may negatively impair an individual’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Following through with professional treatment and making the ultimate decision to maintain abstinence can be just the right stepping stone to major life improvement. Severe SUD can greatly interfere with an individual’s ability to: 

  • Maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones
  • Sustain successful work performance
  • Gain advanced academic progress
  • Grow financially

Different Types of Drug Testing

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), drug testing may be utilized in various ways which might consist of different set times based on unique scenarios. Drug tests may also vary depending on which substances one may be testing for. Different test specimens may be collected for various reasons. These might contain urine, saliva, hair, and sweat collections. For example, federally regulated programs specifically collect urine samples. Other types of drug and alcohol testing may include: 

  • Pre-employment drug tests
  • Annual-physical tests
  • Cause and reasonable-suspicion tests
  • Post-accident tests
  • Random drug tests
  • Post-treatment tests

The Importance of Using a Breathalyzer

Based on a study by the British Medical Journal, alcohol breath testing may help individuals maintain long-term recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD). A breathalyzer can be a very important part of treatment as well. Alcohol testing can help motivate individuals to stay abstinent from drinking alcoholic beverages. In some cases, drivers may be tested for alcohol intoxication on the road with a breathalyzer. Sometimes individuals may be required to use the breathalyzer before driving their vehicle. 

The test takes approximately one minute before the individual can review the results. Testing accuracy of the results strongly depends on alveolar air. For instance, as an individual exhales the breathalyzer continues to monitor the expired air molecules with infrared cells. If the test reads “interfering substances” one may be required to receive a blood sample to verify their blood alcohol concentration. 

Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Testing

Drug and alcohol testing may seem time-consuming but the pros outweigh the cons. Although it may be a controversial practice, drug and alcohol testing can potentially save lives. Drug and alcohol testing may promote safety for all. Surrendering to this type of practice can also reduce the number of accidents. Thus, decreasing the burden on healthcare systems such as law enforcement, healthcare facilities, and medical staff. Drug and alcohol testing can help keep individuals accountable while in treatment or recovery. Breathalyzers may provide the opportunity for one to consistently check in and present responsibility to themselves and their provider. 

Drug and Alcohol Testing as a Complementary Approach to Other Types of Addiction Treatment

The rate one uses a breathalyzer or endures drug testing strongly depends on the treatment facility chosen. Typically, drug tests are randomly administered twice a week. They may also be performed out of great suspicion to help the individual get back on track to sobriety. For example, if one is living in a sober living home (SLH), drug testing may be a weekly requirement. 

Other requirements might include; attending therapy, completing daily chores, meeting their curfew, and attending one house meeting. Drug and alcohol testing may be a complementary approach to various types of treatments. Addiction and psychiatric disorders are commonly linked. Various types of therapies may be highly beneficial for individuals facing problems with a dual diagnosis. Different types of addiction treatment might include: 

  • Relapse prevention
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • Family programs
  • Individual therapy 
  • Group therapy
  • Pet-friendly treatment

What to Expect After Drug and Alcohol Testing Before Transitioning Into Treatment

Not all treatment centers provide detox treatment. Knowing detoxing from home can be deadly, staff members typically recommend detox facilities after reviewing an individual’s drug testing results related to their medical evaluation. By doing this, an individual may receive guidance on which medications may be needed or which type of care plan might be beneficial for their care. Everyone deserves to be healed both mentally and physically from SUD. Discussing a comprehensive treatment plan can increase the odds of having a successful recovery. Staying dedicated to treatment can help one stay on track to passing drug and alcohol tests for ongoing success.