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Saliva (Mouth Swab) Drug Tests & Detection Times

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 23, 2019

Saliva drug testing produces quick results and can be administered immediately after drug use, unlike most urine tests. A mouth swab is easy enough to be used at home and can be self-administered.

If you’ve ever had a saliva drug test (mouth swab), you may have wondered how long drugs can be detected with this test. The detection period varies according to several factors, including age, general state of health, weight, metabolic rate, and tolerance level. Why are saliva tests used instead of other tests?

A mouth swab may be used to detect drug use immediately after use and up to four days later—most urine tests can’t detect drug use for the first four hours. Saliva tests produce quicker results, and can be self-administered.

Saliva Drug Test Detection Times

The following are saliva detection times for some commonly abused drugs:

  • Alcohol: detected almost immediately, disappears in 12 hours
  • Amphetamine: detected in five to 10 minutes, disappears in 72 hours
  • Methamphetamine: detected in five to 10 minutes, disappears in 72 hours
  • Cocaine: detected in five to 10 minutes, disappears in 24 hours
  • Opiates: detected in one hour, disappears in 7-21 hours
  • Marijuana: detected in one hour, disappears in 12 hours

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How Does A Mouth Swab Drug Tests Work?

The mouth swab drug test works simply and efficiently. First, you insert the swab applicator or sponge in the mouth, completely saturating it. The sponge has to stay in the mouth for up to three minutes. Most tests have an indicator that lets you know when the sample has been collected (such as a color change at the handle end of the applicator).

After you complete the test, you cap the test and wait to read it. Results are typically available within 10 minutes.

Why Drug Testing?

You may have guessed that drug tests are used for a number of reasons. Authorities use them to detect drug use in suspects or those who have committed a crime. Employers use them to test for sobriety in new and existing employees.

In treatment, drug testing can be used to help ensure you achieve your treatment goals. The best rehab centers foster a close connection between program participants and the therapists and staff. However, the number one goal of rehab centers is to make sure you have the best chance at success in long-term sobriety. Sometimes, that goal requires drug testing.

The Impact Of Addiction

Drug abuse and addiction have vast consequences. Health is one of the biggest aspects affected, from short to long-term.

Addiction can increase risk of a number of infectious and sexually transmitted diseases. Drugs of abuse affect many different parts of your body, including your brain, heart, lungs, liver, digestive system, and more. Prolonged abuse can also increase risk of several types of cancer, lung disease, and heart problems.

Overdose is a dangerous possibility as well. With some drugs, overdose can mean a lowered heart rate, shallow breathing, loss of consciousness, seizures, stroke, coma, and even death.

Health consequences of addiction are alarming, but other aspects of life are also affected. When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, your life becomes about the substance: seeking it, taking it, maintaining a supply. This compulsion can get in the way of your life, affecting your personal relationships, finances, work, school, obligations, and more.

What Can You Do To Overcome Addiction?

The best recourse for addiction is treatment. Decades of research has uncovered safe and effective methods for overcoming addiction. We now treat addiction as a disease of the mind, targeting not just the physical consequences, but also the effects to your mental and emotional health.

Many rehab centers now offer holistic healing, or treatment which addresses health of the mind, body, and spirit. Long-term recovery success requires you to address not only the symptoms of addiction, but to implement lifestyle changes that will guarantee your best chance at overcoming it.

Best Available Treatments

Available treatments will vary by the treatment centers which offer them. Some treatment modalities will meet your specific needs, and these are the ones you want. At RehabCenter.net, we can connect you with rehab centers who offer these evidence-based methods.

The following methods can be used in combination with others for a holistic approach:

  • Treatment for men: addresses needs specific to men
  • Treatment for women: addresses needs specific to women
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: teaches individuals to develop healthy lifestyle habits
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy: helps individuals recognize their capabilities, enhance their motivation, and utilize both to structure a substance-free lifestyle
  • Adventure therapy: undertakes a new approach to healing to build confidence and connect with nature
  • Counseling: tailored to individual need, and can include one-on-one, family, and group
  • Aftercare: the best rehab centers will help you set a plan for after rehab to continue your recovery efforts

Find Success In Treatment

Addiction to drugs or alcohol can quickly become the driving force in your life. With the right treatment, you can take back control. Don’t let substance abuse take any more time from you. Contact us today at RehabCenter.net to hear more about addiction, how it’s treated, and the best rehab centers for you.

Forensic Fluids - Oral Fluid Vs. Urine

Home Health Testing - Drug Test Detection Times

National Institute On Drug Abuse - Health Consequences Of Drug Misuse

National Institute On Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Use And Addiction

U.S. National Library Of Medicine - Drug Abuse

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