At-Home Drug Test Kits
There are many reasons to use an at-home drug test kit. Whether you’re a concerned parent or helping ensure a friend hasn’t relapsed, your primary purpose for drug testing is that the person you care about is not using. Luckily, at home drug test kits are available, but how accurate are they?
What are Drug Test Kits?
Drugs that are in someone’s system can be found in body fluid samples. Lab testing can find traces of drugs in blood, urine, saliva, hair, and sweat. While more limited than laboratory tests, at home drug test kits can analyze urine or saliva samples without needing to book an appointment or leave the house.
The most common type of at-home drug test is urinalysis. Urinalysis is cheaper than other tests and tends to have a longer detection window compared to other types of body samples. Also, urinalysis is a test that indicates if one or more prescription or illegal drugs are present in urine.
Using an At-Home Drug Test Kit
At-home drug tests are easy to use, and each kit comes with detailed directions. These kits are available over-the-counter at the pharmacy, or you can order them online. Tests come in strips that you dip into a urine or saliva sample. After you collect a sample, leave the strip in the specimen for the amount of time indicated on the instructions, then view the results.
You should not test someone without their knowledge or consent. If your role is to help them, it’s important that you don’t try to trick them into providing a sample.
How Much Do At-Home Drug Test Kits Cost?
Depending on the kit, urine tests range from $7-$50 USD for the at-home version.
Urine tests are less expensive and less invasive than other options, and it’s a sample that’s easy to collect. Urine tests are used primarily to detect drug use within the past week but may have the ability to detect drugs in the system up to 30 days after use.
Saliva tests cost from $15-$75 USD and are useful for detecting recent drug use (within the last few hours or days).
There are no nationally accepted standards for these kits or cut off concentration rates for detection, which means the results vary depending on the specific kit purchased.
What Can At Home Drug Test Kits Test For?
At-home kits may not detect all drugs and may detect drugs that are not illicit at all (such as medications that may show up on the test as amphetamines or tranquilizers). Drugs the at-home kits can catch are:
Most at-home tests do not catch:
- Anabolic steroids
At-Home Drug Test Kit Accuracy
Drug testing is complicated. At-home kits can be positive when drugs are not involved and negative when drugs are involved, so how do you know if the test is reliable? The tests can provide accurate results if done carefully.
Results from cheap or disreputable kits can be misleading and incorrect, so be sure to do your research and read product reviews before settling for whatever brand is on sale. Even in cases where a high-quality kit is used, several external factors can impact test results.
Accuracy depends largely on the standards for sample collection and how strictly the specimen was collected. Drug tests are not 100% accurate, so it’s recommended that you follow up with a positive at-home test with a laboratory-based test. Professionally conducted tests are more accurate (but more expensive) but might be a good option to verify at-home results.
Factors That Can Make the Test Inaccurate
- Contaminated urine
- Urine samples that are too diluted can’t be read properly (for example, drinking too much water will dilute the urine so much that it drives the detection of substances below the identification level)
- Legitimate prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications in the system can generate a positive result
- Drugs have different detection windows, depending on the test. Specimens collected too soon or too late after drug use will not provide accurate results. Some substances take time to be metabolized by the body before they appear in the urine test.
Best At-Home Drug Test Kits Brands
Accuracy (whether the test will correctly give a positive or negative result) and drug panel (each test checks for a specific set of substances and will only be able to provide a positive or negative result for these substances) are two characteristics you want to look for when selecting an at-home drug test kit.
Home kits come in drug panel tests as low as four up to 12-panel tests. Also, the more extensive and comprehensive the drug panel is, the better the test (you can purchase one kit for everything you want to test for rather than purchasing separate kits).
Reputable At-Home Drug Test Kits
- PreScreen Plus Mini: a 12-panel urine test with high company standards and a 99% accuracy rate in the reading period.
- ITG Labs: offer a 5-panel and 10-panel test with excellent accuracy for the substances they’re testing.
- Easy@Home: offer a variety of panel-sizes, easy to use, with reasonable accuracy. The second line on the test can be challenging to read.
- Care Check: offer a marijuana-only test and a 12-panel urine test with good accuracy and comparable to the Easy@Home test (the second line on these tests may also be faint).
- Identify Diagnostics: offer a wide product range and can do up to a 16-panel test. The larger panel kits are more expensive, and the tests claim 99% accuracy.
There are many options out there for at-home drug test kits. The at-home drug test kit you choose depends on the number of substances you’re testing for, the expense, and the availability of the kit.
When used properly, these kits can provide accurate drug test results and hopefully offer peace of mind for friends and family.