The most common way to detect if a person has abused drugs or is under the influence of drugs is to test their urine. Results are almost immediate and the process of urine analysis has been implemented in treatment centers, hospitals, workplace and the justice system. However, there can be some flaws in this method of drug testing.
For instance, many drug offenders attempt (and sometimes get away with) circumventing the test. This is accomplished by either trying to taint the sample or use some other form of alteration. Another problem is that the test has to be administered in a particular setting with safeguards in place against the usual methods of tricking the test. Due to some of these difficulties, researchers in Sweden set out to create a test that would be just as effective but would be more conducive to on-the-spot testing and more resistant to attempts to produce false negatives.
Olof Beck, a professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Karolinska Institute and his team discovered that drugs could be detected by analyzing a person’s breath when they exhale. This discovery may allow police, hospital and prison employees to detect if someone is under the influence of drugs immediately and without having to administer a urine analysis.
The results were published in the Journal of Chromotagraphy. This is the process of separating particles in a solution or vapor. This enhanced form of breathalyzer reportedly can detect more than just alcohol or marijuana usage, which are more common applications. Beck’s study included panels for other drugs, including amphetamines, morphine, cocaine, and benzos.
“I see many possible applications of breath drug testing. Driving under the Influence of drugs (DUID) is only one; workplace, criminal justice, accidents and compliance monitoring of patients are others. For DUID, the short detection time is relevant since the state of influence is in focus, and this combined with the convenient sampling procedure makes it an attractive solution for roadside testing,” explained the lead researcher on the study.
While this testing process is still in its infancy, there are many hopes that it will aid in the monitoring of drug use and prevent people from abusing drugs and getting away with it by cheating the common urine analysis tests.