While the urine drug testing method has been popular among employers and workplace drug tests for decades, mouth swab tests are becoming increasingly prevalent. Mouth swab tests are highly affordable and deliver quick results. Lab testing for saliva gives just as accurate results as urine testing. While it’s possible to alter and tamper with samples from urine screens, it’s not easy to do so with mouth swabs since they may be conducted on-site. From marijuana to cocaine, these tests can be used to screen for many different drugs. You may be wondering how far back a mouth swab drug test goes. The answer depends on numerous factors, all of which are detailed in this guide.

mouth swab

What Are Mouth Swab Drug Tests?

A mouth swab drug test, also known as oral fluids drug tests, saliva drug tests, and oral swab tests, occurs by obtaining a sample of someone’s saliva. It is a drug screening test that detects traces of substances in someone’s saliva sample to identify the presence of drugs or alcohol. If someone smokes marijuana or cocaine a week before the test, the drug test results may be positive. However, these tests are usually meant to identify very recent drug use.

Before taking the test, the person administering it will ask you if you’ve had any beverages or food in the last 10-20 minutes. A swab will then be taken along your tongue, cheeks, and gums for several minutes. Once enough saliva is collected, the swab is placed inside a secure receptacle. The receptacle usually contains test strips that change color whether you test positive or negative for specific drugs. Each strip is labeled with a different drug. For example, a six-strip receptacle may screen for methamphetamine, marijuana, methadone, amphetamine, opiates, cocaine, and phencyclidine.

How Far Back Do These Tests Go?

Even though mouth swab tests work best when used to identify recent drug use, long-term detection is possible. Immediately after someone takes drugs like marijuana or opioids (heroin and codeine), the cannabis can be found in the metabolites of the saliva. If an individual uses drugs a few hours before they take the mouth swab test, the substance will almost certainly be detected.

Short-term detection occurs if the test is taken within one to two days after using drugs. While drugs don’t always show up after 24-48 hours, most of them do. Everything from cocaine to benzodiazepines can be detected by a mouth swab drug test kit within the short-term timeline.

Depending on the drug, it’s possible for a mouth swab test to identify the presence of an illicit substance more than 72 hours detection time after it got into the body. However, factors like metabolism and drug use frequency determine if the test will come back positive.

If you’re set to take a test over the next few days, keep in mind that specific drugs can be detected even if it’s been weeks since you last used them. One substance that’s easy to detect with mouth swab tests is marijuana (THC). If you only smoke marijuana occasionally, it’s unlikely to be found in your saliva. However, chronic marijuana users can test positive well after they last smoked or consumed the drug.

Factors that Determine Detection Period

Numerous factors determine how long a drug can be detected with this test, which include the following:

  • A person’s metabolism
  • Type of drug that was taken
  • How often the drug is used

As touched upon previously, drugs like marijuana are detectable for a much lengthier amount of time in comparison to other substances. Your metabolism dictates how quickly a drug leaves your system. Let’s say you have a relatively slow metabolism. In this scenario, the drugs won’t be processed as quickly.

Regardless of what you eat or drink, the drugs will remain in your body for longer. If you have a faster metabolism, the detection window should be shorter. The quality of the test can impact the results as well. Some mouth swab tests are more sensitive than others.

Drugs that a Mouth Swab Drug Test Can Detect

There are two ways that a mouth swab drug test can be administered, the primary of which involves swiping a few areas of your mouth to gather saliva. It can also be placed under your tongue for a short period until the stick changes color. Many of these tests produce results in just a couple of minutes. However, some require you to first send them to a lab. If this extra step needs to be taken, you can expect to get results back within 24 hours. The drugs that are regularly detected with these tests include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines
  • Alcohol
  • Opiates
  • Oxycodone
  • MDMA

One reason why urine tests and blood tests are still used by many employment drug testing and government institutions is that drugs can be detected within a longer time range. Even though mouth swab tests provide fast results, many drugs can’t be detected in saliva after 48-72 hours.

Preparing for a Mouth Swab Drug Test

To avoid a positive mouth swab drug test, there are several steps you can take. For one, avoid using drugs for one to two weeks. Once you take the test, consider treatment if you’d like to stop taking drugs for good. To pass this test, it’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene, which means using mouthwash and brushing your teeth every day.

A drug is easier to detect in saliva when there’s a high concentration of it. If you drink a lot of water during the day, this might dilute the concentration of the drug. Keep in mind that each facility has instructions that you must follow before taking the test.

Obtaining Treatment for a Substance Use Disorder

If you think you have a substance use disorder, consider seeking treatment immediately to avoid long-term consequences. Over time, drug addiction can lead to financial problems, relationship issues, and health complications. Long-term consequences are less likely if you obtain treatment that helps you understand why you’re using drugs and how to deal with the cravings. The primary options available to you include outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and inpatient rehab.

Mouth swab drug tests have proven to be effective at detecting drug use if the incident has occurred recently. However, many factors, including everything from test sensitivity to drug type, play a role in determining the detection rate. If you’re interested in getting help for your substance abuse, call Long Island Interventions today to learn more about the lasting solutions we offer.

Published on: 2024-02-26
Updated on: 2024-04-07