Menu Close

New Fingertip Drug Test: How Does it Work?

New Fingertip Drug Test: How Does it Work?

Many people have participated in a drug test in one way or another. Maybe you submitted to a urine test during drug rehab, or maybe you just had to comply with the company’s mandatory annual drug test. Either way, drug testing is an important part of continuing to battle against the drug epidemic in this country. Drug testing has been around for a long time. But along with new technology has come a new, non-invasive method of drug screening: the new fingertip drug test. The concept is simple enough: the fingerprint drug test screens specifically for benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, two compounds found in cocaine. The test is relatively cheap, extremely efficient (they are working on a version that takes just 30 seconds), and could prove to be a saving grace for police and employers alike. But how does the new fingertip drug test actually work? And why is it such an important development in drug screening? These are the questions we are here to address.

Drug Testing Explained: The How and Why of Drug Screening

Drug testing has been around for quite a long time, and has thankfully become a ubiquitous presence in the American workforce. In fact, around 80% of American companies regularly test their employees for drugs. But how does drug screening work, and why is drug testing so important in the first place? More than anything, it is crucial to understand that we are in the middle of an drug and addiction epidemic in the United States. “Data from the National Statistics Office from 2015-2016 indicate that 1 in 12 adults aged 16-59 (nearly 2.7 million) used illicit drugs. In fact, over 8,500 persons were admitted to hospitals during this period with drug-related mental health and behavioral disorders. Equally concerning is that in 2015, over 2,500 persons died as a result of misuse of prescription drugs, a 10 percent increase over 2014 data.” ~ Dr. Robert Glatter, contributor at Forbes Magazine With these statistics in mind, the need for drug testing, becomes abundantly clear. Drug screening allows every kind of entity, from schools to businesses to the police, ensure that their employees are not part of these statistics. In turn, drug screening allows employers to protect other employees, customers, and in the cases of schools the kids within their care. These are just some of the benefits of drug screening:

  • Employers are able to reduce employee healthcare costs.
  • Companies are able to become more productive, since drug users are generally less productive.
  • Executives are able to boost morale.
  • Managers face less absenteeism in the face of regular drug screening, since drug addicts are much more likely to miss work.
  • Companies who screen for drug use face far fewer workers compensation claims.
  • Drug testing provides a safer and healthier environment for employees and customers alike.

Now that we have covered why drug screening is important in the American workplace, we can talk about what this new fingerprint drug test detection is all about.

The New Method: Fingerprint Drug Test Detection

Thanks to scientific research, there is a new and more effective method for drug screening: using fingerprints. The new method comes out of the University of Surrey, and the relevant research was published in September. The researchers are working in conjunction with the Netherlands Forensic Institute and Intelligent Fingerprinting to put the new method into practice. The new fingerprint drug test is specifically for cocaine, since the drug leaves a unique signature on the fingers when someone uses it. Since the test works in a matter of seconds, it is set to do away with urine, saliva or blood drug tests – at least for cocaine. “This is a real breakthrough in our work to bring a real-time, non-invasive drug-testing method to the market. It will give a definitive result in minutes, which can’t be faked. We are working on a 30-second method.” ~ Dr. Melanie Bailey, researcher for the new fingerprint drug screening Published in Clinical Chemistry, a scientific journal, the research behind this method is informed by just how much damage drug use and addiction causes. For instance, in 2015 there were 2,500 drug-related deaths in the United Kingdom alone (where the journal and university are based). The new fingerprint drug test detection is based on a method called paper spray mass spectrometry. It essentially analyzes fingerprints for chemicals. But how does the method actually work?

How the New Fingerprint Drug Test Works

The new fingerprint drug test for cocaine is based on the chemical compounds left behind by cocaine. These chemicals don’t come from the white powder itself; benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine come to the surface of the skin as cocaine users metabolize the drug. This means that handwashing doesn’t do away with the compounds, so no amount of cleaning can get rid of the evidence of drug use. It also means that the fingerprint drug test for cocaine can tell if someone has actually used the drug, rather than just handling it or touching the powder. “Cocaine users excrete trace amounts of the compounds benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolize cocaine , with the chemicals present in their fingerprint residue. What’s even more remarkable is that the fingerprint metabolites can even be detected after handwashing, making the test even more sensitive and specific.” ~ Dr. Robert Glatter, contributor at Forbes Magazine Ambient mass spectrometry may sound technical, but it just means quickly scanning for the chemical compounds associated with cocaine use. The researchers also tested their new method against a more traditional saliva method and found it to be just as accurate.

Why a Non-Invasive Drug Testing Method is Important

So this new fingerprint drug test works – but why is it important in the first place? For one major reason: it is an exciting development in non-invasive drug testing methods. A non-invasive drug testing method typically means a faster and easier process, which makes drug testing much more painless. Realizing the benefits of drug screening discussed above is important for companies and public institutions alike, and this fingerprint drug test for cocaine gets them that much closer to those benefits.

Getting Help for Cocaine or Other Stimulant Addiction

Of course, drug screening is not all about helping the company stay safe and productive. It is also about getting professional help to those who need it. If you are concerned about a drug test with your employer, it may be a sign that cocaine has become a problem in your life. Thankfully, drug detox and rehab have been shown to be effective treatment methods for those struggling from any kind of addiction – including individuals addicted to cocaine. If you have more questions about drug screening, or about getting professional help and treatment for cocaine addiction, do not hesitate to contact us today. We are here to help.