What is a rapid drug test?
A rapid drug test is used for the simple and rapid detection of drugs, certain medications or their degradation products in urine, saliva or sweat, on the skin or on the surface of objects. Breath gas analysis for alcohol detection can also be referred to as a rapid drug test.
Generally, rapid drug tests are based on a so-called immunoassay. It provides evidence of drug use using an antigen-antibody reaction. Antibodies are substances normally formed by the body that bind foreign substances (antigens) and thus render them harmless. In a rapid drug test – to put it simply – the substances sought bind to artificially produced, specific antibodies and produce a color reaction visible to the naked eye.
When do you do a rapid drug test?
A rapid drug test may be necessary in various situations to detect the use of a substance. In addition to legal aspects, this can also be therapeutically significant, for example, when the administration of an antidote or intensive medical treatment (ventilation, dialysis) may become necessary. A rapid drug test is performed, for example:
- in cases of suspected poisoning and in unexplained medical emergency situations
- to monitor the progress of drug therapy
- to clarify the question of guilt, for example in road traffic accidents
- within the scope of investigations in forensic medicine
What is done in a rapid drug test?
A urine test strip or a so-called multi-drug screen card is dipped into the fresh urine. If the amount of the substance sought exceeds the cut-off value, a test field changes color.
What are the risks of a rapid drug test?
Performing a rapid drug test does not pose any health risks as an examination method. In rare cases, a rapid drug test can be falsely positive. For example, the use of legal hemp products (such as in shampoo) can result in a positive drug wipe test. Eating poppy seed cake can also produce a color change in the rapid drug test. This is because European poppy seeds contain traces of opium-like substances, albeit in medically irrelevant amounts.