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Hold Your Breath: New Drug Test Offers Alternative To Traditional Testing Methods

Dr. Anna Pickering

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anna Pickering

April 3, 2019

New research out of Sweden is providing evidence that urine and blood tests for illegal drugs may soon be a thing of the past. For the first time, scientists say these studies show that new drug tests may be conducted through a breathalyzer to detect substances such as cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, heroin, and cannabis.

Benefits Of Breath Drug Testing

Traditionally, drug tests have been carried out using urine, saliva and blood samples. However, these kinds of tests have been regarded as inconvenient and a violation of privacy. Exhaled breath, on the other hand, seems to be a promising alternative – as it’s easier to collect, non-invasive, less prone to adulteration – and advantageous when a location becomes an obstacle, such as at roadside checks.

How It Works

The new breathalyzer approach analyzes an individual’s breath using a highly sensitive method called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. While the method may sound highly advanced, it’s actually conducted using commercially available sampling devices containing a mouthpiece and a micro-particle filter. When an individual breathes into the mouthpiece, saliva and larger particles are separated from the microparticles to be measured. These microparticles then pass through into a filter that analyzes the contents of the particles.

Breath samples are analyzed for twelve different substances. The substances that are measured include methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, morphine, 6-acetylmorphine, tetrahydrocannabinol, buprenorphine, diazepam, oxazepam, alprazolam, and benzoylecgonine. These drugs were sampled 24 hours after the intake of the drugs.

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The Future: We Can All Breathe A Little Easier

Scientists are hopeful that this method of drug testing could be implemented and used routinely in roadside-related testing, such as in DUI cases, but also in the workplace, criminal justice accidents, and compliance monitoring of patients at an inpatient rehab facility.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction and would like more information on breathalyzer tests or other methods of drug testing, contact us today. At we have the resources available to answer any of your questions and get you the help you need.

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