2-14-12; In drug/alcohol testing, can we test saliva and will it stand up?

If you aren’t sure, the 2011 Amendments to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act made intoxication a much stronger defense to workers’ compensation claims than in the past. Effectively, alcohol use at levels over the driving limit create a presumption of intoxication that needs to be rebutted by claimant. Use of illegal drugs or non-prescribed drugs should create a similar presumption. The problem this creates for employers is creating and maintaining valid tests. Please remember the more serious the claim, the more important testing becomes—you have maintain a chain of custody and otherwise insure scientific testing occurs.

We had a reader ask us if saliva can be tested and used to establish intoxication in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin testing. The answers are various.

The Drug Testing Advisory Board now recommends the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration include oral fluid as an alternative specimen in the Mandatory Guidelines for the Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs. In addition, they have added several prescription drugs to the panel for review (e.g., oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone) in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.

 From that recommendation, we are suggesting clients who want to test for drug and alcohol use also obtain backup saliva testing. Saliva testing has a

·         Shorter up-front window of detection.

·         All collections are monitored at the point of collection with little to no chance of adulteration.

·         Simple collection procedure with no requirement for same-gender collectors or specific collection site needs.

·         No known successful court challenges

Problems with the concept include:

·         Shorter overall window of detection.

·         Limited laboratory availability within the US for workplace testing and confirmation of NIDT.

·         No federal procedures in place to use as guideline.

·         All positive saliva tests, whether by non-instrumented drug test devices or by laboratory based drug testing, must be confirmed using GC/MS or GC/MS MS confirmation testing.

·         For saliva testing, there is no difference between heavy use and current use, unlike with urine testing where the marijuana may be detected for several weeks in a heavy user.

We remain happy to assist our clients with drug testing issues in the states where we provide services, including IL, IN, MI and WI. If you have questions or need help, please send a reply.