19 Dec Toxicology screen
Alternative Names: Drug abuse screen, Alcohol blood test, Barbiturates screen, Benzodiazepines screen, Narcotics screen, Amphetamines screen, Methanol screen
A toxicology screen tests blood or urine for the presence of legal and illegal drugs. Situations in which the test may be performed are overdose, drug dependence, alcohol use and abuse, and drug use by competitive athletes. Even drugs that have been used many months before may be picked up. A sample of blood is withdrawn through a needle inserted into a vein, usually inside the elbow, and sent for laboratory analysis. Alternately, you may be asked to pass a small amount of urine into a container.
What is it?
A toxicology screen is a test to detect the presence of legal and illegal drugs. It may be performed on blood or urine.
The sample can be obtained at your doctor’s rooms, a clinic, or in hospital. The analysis is performed in a laboratory.
Why is it done?
A toxicology screen is done to check for the presence of legal and illegal drugs in the following situations:
- Drug dependency
- Alcohol use/abuse/alcoholism
- Competitive athletes (where very extensive testing is done
The toxicology screen may be able to pick up the use of drugs as long ago as many months, in some cases.
Before – how to prepare
No special preparation is needed, but it is important to inform your doctor of any and all medications/drugs you are taking.
During – how the test is done
Blood test: a convenient area, where there are prominent veins, is identified and cleaned – the area inside the elbow is often used. A tourniquet or tight band is applied above the area in order to increase pressure and dilate the veins. A needle is then inserted, through the skin, into a vein, and some blood is withdrawn. The needle may cause some pain but this is not usually severe. The blood specimen is sent to the laboratory for analysis.
Urine test: you will be asked to pass a small amount of urine into a container. You may be accompanied by an assistant to make sure the sample actually comes from you and that the sample is not interfered with in any way.
After the test
If you have had a blood test, you will have a small dressing over the puncture wound, which can be removed after a few hours.
Risks and Compilations
There is a slight risk of excessive bleeding at the puncture site and an even smaller risk of infection.
A toxicology screen tests blood or urine for the presence of legal and illegal drugs.
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