Many people may have had toxicology testing and not realized it. Others might need to undergo toxicology testing to monitor medication or as a regular employment requirement. Also called tox screens or drug tests, this type of toxicology testing in Houston and around the country is common. But what exactly can a toxicology test reveal, and how long will it take to get results?
The answer to both questions is—it varies. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is a Toxicology Screen?
A toxicology test or screen can determine whether a legal or illegal drug is present. Some types of tests can also indicate the approximate amount of the substance that is present. The screening itself can be a speedy process. The medical professional will obtain one or more samples from you to perform the screening. These samples can include hair, urine, saliva, sweat, or blood. Sometimes, you may need to provide more than one sample type.
The Different Types of Toxicology Screening
The type of toxicology test you undergo will depend on your specific situation. For example, if you are an athlete, you may need to provide urine or blood samples for screening for performance-enhancing or illegal drugs. New employees and existing workers involved in workplace accidents may also need to undergo screening.
Other people get regular toxicology tests for medical reasons. Some medications can be beneficial for treating symptoms but have the potential to build up to dangerous levels in the body. Routine screening helps your medical professional to monitor you safely. Others requiring these tests may be in recovery or working with medical professionals to manage addiction.
Finally, forensic toxicology involves testing that occurs after someone has died. This type of testing can help coroners determine the cause of death or rule out other possible causes.
What Affects the Wait Time for Toxicology Results
It can be stressful to wait for toxicology results. But the duration will depend on several factors, such as:
● The drug or drugs the test is screening for
● Whether rapid testing is available or relevant
● The types and methods of testing available at the lab or clinic
● Whether or not the location can process the test in-house
● The amount of the drug or substance in your system
How Long Will It Take to Get Toxicology Results?
A rapid test is one of the most accessible toxicology screens to administer and can deliver a positive or negative result when you need an instant answer. This type of test can also be helpful when looking for substances that metabolize quickly and won’t remain present in detectable amounts for long.
Some rapid tests like a breathalyzer can deliver results immediately. Others may take minutes or a few hours to produce a result. But because there is a slight chance that a rapid test may produce a false positive, most people will also provide a sample for a confirmation test. The confirmation results can take two to three days.
Other types of screenings can take longer to produce results. Your doctor may have ordered a 5-panel or 10-panel drug test to screen for the most common types of drugs. These tests usually involve giving blood samples, which will go to a lab. You may get your results within 24 hours or several days. If you test positive for one of the substances, you may have to do at least one confirmation test.
Some get tested regularly to monitor a prescription drug’s levels in their bodies. These tests are usually done with a blood sample and have a similar wait time of one to three days.
Finally, forensic toxicology screens are unlike screenings for living people. Labs must process the samples differently, and results can take weeks. In some cases, when there is a backlog, results can take months or longer.
Understanding the Results After a Toxicology Test
Even a day of waiting for test results can feel like forever. But when you get your results, make sure you discuss them with a healthcare professional. If you think that the result was inaccurate or if you tested positive, you most likely will be able to do a confirmation screen. Your medical provider may give you resources and follow up to monitor your health based on your results.