What's the difference between a drug screen and a drug test

Drug Screen VS Drug Test - What’s the Difference?

Although “drug screen” and “drug test” are often used interchangeably, they’re actually very different. Both methods are designed to test for leftover traces of drugs in your body to help determine if you’ve been getting high on illegal substances. But, the key difference between the two is that a drug test is much more accurate (but takes longer and is more expensive) than a drug screen. It’s important to know the difference between the two so you can prepare to pass no matter what!

What is a Drug Screen?

When you get high, your body eventually breaks down your drug of choice into chemical compounds called metabolites. These metabolites are like little narks that can rat you out when you’re required to participate in a drug screen. Drug screens can be done just about anywhere and are most commonly performed on a sample of urine; but, sometimes saliva is used instead. If the drug screen detects the presence of any leftover drug metabolites in your sample, your test will come back positive, indicating you’ve recently used drugs. If this is the case, your sample will typically be sent to a lab for an actual drug test (or “confirmation test”) to double check for any drug toxins.

Drug screens are fast! Because your test results are ready within just a few minutes, this is a quick and easy way for employers, parole officers, or parents to check if you’ve been using drugs or not. The downfall? They’re more reactive and less accurate than an actual drug test which could lead to your test results showing a “false positive”. For example, most drug screens can’t tell the difference between poppy seeds and opiates, ibuprofen and marijuana, or cold medicine and cocaine. Because they’re more likely to give inaccurate results, drug screens that come back positive are typically followed up by an actual laboratory drug test. If you originally provided a urine sample, this same sample will be sent to the lab for testing; but, if your drug screen was performed on saliva, you’ll most likely be asked to give a sample of urine, hair, or blood for the lab test (again, urine is still the most common option).

What is a Drug Test?

Drug tests are much more reliable and accurate than drug screens, but they’re a lot pricier and take a lot longer to perform. For a drug test, your sample of urine, hair, or blood will be analyzed by a GC/MS device that can tell, with great detail, if any drug metabolites are present. Because the test is performed in a lab, it can take anywhere from 1-7 days to receive your results.

The average cost of a drug test is around $200, so you shouldn’t be surprised it’s not the first go-to option for most scenarios. It would be very rare for a sample to go straight to a laboratory drug test unless it was for medical purposes.


The Bottom Line

Your pharmacy probably has a basic drug screening product for about $10. Because they’re more cost-effective, most employers, parole officers, coaches, and parents choose to first use drug screens rather than sending your sample straight to the lab. However, you get what you pay for. Because drug screens provide faster results for cheap, they’re not as accurate as actual drug tests. This could result in a false positive and get your sample sent out for a laboratory confirmation test. Essentially, drug screening is a quick and affordable way to tell if an actual drug test is needed.

If you’re a drug user and have a drug screen coming up, it’s important to be prepared. You should first learn what kind of test will be performed (urine or saliva) and then make the appropriate arrangements to make sure you’re able to pass. We offer a variety of products to get rid of toxins in your urine and detoxify your saliva so that you can pass your drug screen. But, if you’re a heavy drug user, you may want to consider using synthetic urine as a substitute for your own pee. Synthetic urine has all the same qualities as human urine and is completely undetectable - even if your sample gets sent out for a laboratory drug test. All our products are meant to help you keep what happens in your private life…well…private. 

If you have a drug screen coming up, we recommend using Quick Fix Plus Synthetic Urine. It’s a surefire way to make sure you pass any urine test!

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