Our primary business is testing for drugs of abuse, and we're good at what we do.
Because National Laboratories' clients are addiction treatment providers, we process a significantly higher volume of positive samples than most competitor labs. With our unique insight and experience, we can provide a level of accuracy where other labs fall short.
How Does Drug Screening Work?
During a drug test, a biological sample of urine, blood, hair, breath, sweat, or saliva is collected. This sample is then tested for the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites.
At National Labs, we focus on urine drug testing (UDT). This allows us to provide our clients with high complexity testing at a price they can afford. A UDT is quick and painless, making compliance far more likely. Urine testing is also fast - and we push it to the limit without sacrificing any accuracy. Our turnaround time is impressive: under 24 hours, with confirmation in 48 to 72 hours.
Because of its speed, affordability and ease of administration, urine testing is often used by addiction treatment programs, hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors' offices focusing on medication management.
Urine testing is the preferred testing method for many of the most commonly abused substances available today. This is because urine has a longer window of detection than other biological specimens. UDTs are also more widely validated as a testing method than any other biological sample. Some of the addictive substances commonly tested for in a urine sample include:
Samples are generally collected on site at the addiction treatment center, hospital, or doctor's office, and then sent to our lab for testing. Once we have the sample, we run it through several tests. The first set of tests look for any substances of abuse, and their concentrations. You can learn more about these in the "Types of Drug Testing" section below.
The second test checks that no adulteration of the sample has taken place. This ensures that the results you receive are accurate. You can find out more about our adulteration testing in the "Can Drug Testing Be 'Cheated'?" section below.
Types of Drug Testing
At National Laboratories, we use two types of UDT to ensure fast and accurate results. First, we offer an initial, quick result using Enzyme Immunoassay. This result is then confirmed by our second type, Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (LCMS). We also ensure accuracy with multiple adulteration tests to verify that any negative result is a true negative, and not the result of adulterants.
In Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA), special antibodies are created in a lab. These antibodies are added to the urine sample and will compete with drugs and their metabolites, forming antigen-antibody complexes. This provides an initial negative or positive result. This result is then verified with the next step in our testing process. Our EIA testing is incredibly fast, providing you results in as little as six hours.
Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (LCMS) is much more complex. It can detect all substances of abuse and show their exact concentrations. In this test, a carrier liquid is used to push the sample through a chromatographic column. The sample separates into molecular components, which are examined using a mass spectrometer. This allows us to identify the specific substances present in the sample, and their precise concentrations.
Combining LCMS together with EIA is "gold standard" in drug testing. The EIA provides the initial positive or negative result while the LCMS allows for verification and specificity.
Can Drug Testing Be "Cheated"?
It is very difficult to "cheat" on a drug test, but people try every day. As a lab that frequently works with addiction treatment programs, we are familiar with all of the most popular adulteration methods used today, including over-the-counter chemical adulterants. Because urine testing is considered to be prone to adulteration, we use four additional tests to keep this from happening:
A creatinine test checks to make sure that the urine sample hasn't been diluted. Creatinine is a metabolic byproduct of the muscles. In a normal sample, this measure would be greater than 20 mg/dL. Anything below this may indicate adulteration, usually through over-consumption of water in an attempt to ensure any substances of abuse fall below the level of detection.
Urine usually has a specific gravity that falls between 1.003 and 1.035. Anything that falls below this range indicates possible dilution of the urine sample, either by mixing it with toilet water or other dilution methods. Anything above this range may indicate the use of chemical adulterants in an attempt to mask any substances of abuse from detection in the test.
Under normal circumstances, urine will have a pH between 3 and 11. Anything outside this range is a strong indicator of adulteration. An older method of masking marijuana usage was adulteration with acid. But acid drops the ph.
Oxidants can be added to a urine sample in order to destroy any traces of substances of abuse. These are sold over-the-counter online and in many drug stores. In a normal sample, no oxidants should be present. At National Laboratories we test for all oxidants, including those added by popular brands like Stealth, Klear, Clean ADD-IT and Urine Luck.
Is Drug Testing Accurate?
Drug testing today is extremely accurate. If that is, it is performed by a reliable lab, running the right tests, with experience interpreting the results. The combination EIA and LC/MS is considered to be one of the most accurate forms of drug testing on the market today.
Used on its own, EIA is very good. But a few studies show it can miss some drug users - we call these misses 'false negatives.' False positives are also known to occur. This is why, if results really matter, they should be verified with LC/MS.
It's important to remember that the EIA results you receive from us should be preliminary only. LC/MS verification is needed on all positives and recommended in some other instances.
For accuracy and reliability, the combination EIA and LC/MS is the gold standard that avoids all doubt.
Rehabs and other clinics need to test their high-risk clients often. We help them do that in a very cost-effective way. And our experience with positive results and adulterants means we know exactly what to look for in these samples.
Detox facilities are probably our most complex customers. Between the illicit drugs their clients are coming off of and the stabilizing medications they are given the to ease the transition, reading these results is complicated. We have lots of experience.
Doctors see a lot of patients. Some of them have problems with addiction. Some of them are at risk based on prescription painkiller or anxiety medication use. We can help with monitoring and more.
While we focus our marketing on specific core lines of business, National Labs has done a lot of work for employers. We are always interested in developing new business opportunities. Give us a call and let's talk.