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Blood drug testing

Blood drug testing

There are two variants of blood drug testing, used in laboratory analysis in our days:

  • quarterly test;
  • chemico-toxicological method.

Both variants imply visiting laboratory, where blood sampling will be done. Let us see, how these methods of blood testing work.

Drug abuse diagnosis by quarterly test

This method can identify drug usage for the following classes of narcotics: opiates, cannabinoids, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, ephedrone.

The main advantage of the method is the possibility to establish the fact of drug abuse not only after 2-5 days of using narcotics (when testing urine by immunoassay), but also to confirm the fact of narcotization, which took place from 1 to 4 months ago!

This is a science absorbing method. No doubt it is far more expensive, than urine drug tests. But its information value is absolutely different. So, how does this method of blood drug testing work?

Simply speaking, this method tests blood not for drugs, but for antibodies to drugs.

From the scientific point of view narcotic substances are low-molecular compounds, therefore they don’t possess immunizing power. Practically antibodies can’t be produced in response to the drug presence in the body. Narcotic substances are getting transformed in the organism, resulting in forming innate antigens, which considered high-molecular substances. Antibodies are produced in the blood in response to the presence of these antigens.

Antibodies are known to remain in blood even after 3-4 months since last drug usage. This property allows us to consider this blood drug test to be very informative.

Unlike the urine drug test, this method can’t identify narcotic intoxication at the moment of drug testing. The antibodies need a certain period of time to be produced in response to drugs.

Moreover, the antibodies can be produced only after a series of drug taking, one or two times is not enough. Therefore the quarterly test can confirm or disprove drug dependence for this or that class of narcotics.

That’s why this method of blood drug testing can’t substitute for urine drug tests (including immunoassay), but it can make them more informative.

Chemico-toxicological methods of blood drug testing

These methods of blood drug testing are the same, as used in urine drug screen.

Peculiarities of blood sampling

Blood sampling is to be taken at a special work place, equipped according to requirements for medical treatment room. It is performed in rubber gloves observing aseptic regulations. The rubber gloves must be cleaned by non-alcohol disinfectant before every blood sampling.

Before the puncturing the skin of a tested person must be treated by sterile piece of cotton wool (cotton ball), moistened by non-alcohol disinfectant. After the blood sampling a new sterile cotton ball, moistened by the same disinfectant, must be placed on the wound surface.

The sterile cotton balls are kept in the paper package containing 20 pieces at the most. Sterile medical instruments are kept in the same package, in which they were sterilized.

The blood for chemico-toxicological analysis is to be taken from the superficial vein by one of the following ways:

By gravity into a dry bottle with heparin solution (3-5 drops for every 10 ml of the blood). The bottles are fixed by flip-off cap. The bottles’ content gets mixed at once. Then they get sealed and delivered to the laboratory for chemico-toxicological analysis in order to indicate alcohol and its surrogates, narcotic substances, psychotropic and other substances, which cause intoxication, and their metabolites. The bottle with 5 ml of the blood is kept as a control sample. The second bottle with 10 ml of the blood (test sample) is used for chemico-toxicological testing.

By using evacuated blood collection receptacles (disposable facilities for quick blood sampling, containing heparin and having needles on the both sides), one needle punctures the vein, the second one punctures the rubber membrane of a test tube. 15 ml of the blood should be placed in 2 evacuated test tubes of 5ml (control sample) and 10 ml (test sample); the tubes get sealed. Taken for chemico-toxicological testing for alcohol and its surrogates presence, as well as for narcotic, psychotropic and other substances, which cause intoxication, and their metabolites, the blood samples ought to be delivered to the laboratory within 48 hours after having been collected. Before sending off, the blood is kept in refrigerator at temperature 0-2 degrees Celsius. The blood sampling may be also done at home.

The blood provided with supporting documents is delivered in packed and sealed containers, placed in the analyses carrier by the specialist, responsible for tests delivery.

The blood drug tests performed with the help of chemico-toxicological analysis allow the specialists to prove the fact of drug abuse within 48-72 hours of using narcotics. In some cases it may be possible to indicate the quantity of narcotic per unit volume of blood. Such drug testing is not to be a quick test. The tested blood needs to be delivered to the laboratory and tested with the help of laboratory reagents and special equipment.

The result of blood drug test, performed by chemico-toxicological analysis, is considered a legal fact and can be used in the court as evidence.

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