Oral Fluid Drug Testing: Advantages and Disadvantages
Oral Fluid Drug Testing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Oral Fluid Drug Testing: Advantages and Disadvantages

Blog and Opinions Red Slashes Sep 2, 2022
By: Kendra Lawrysyn

Oral Fluid Drug Testing is one method used to test donors for the presence of illicit substances. Saliva is collected when an absorbent device is inserted into the donor’s mouth. Once the specimen has been collected, it is evaluated for drug and other molecule concentrations. This analysis is completed in a laboratory setting; however, point of collection testing is currently being investigated.

The most important goal of workplace drug testing in Canada is to manage risk and improve safety. Achieving this requires testing technology that verifiably produces fair and reliable results for actionable and accurate risk identification.

CannAmm understands that selecting a method for workplace drug and alcohol testing can be overwhelming. Our team recommends evaluating the various options, asking questions, and setting a trusted standard to reflect your organization’s needs now and in the future. If you’re looking into adding Oral Fluid Drug Testing to your workplace fit for duty policy check out the following advantages, disadvantages, and key notes from the Canadian Model For Providing A Safe Workplace.

Oral Fluid Drug Testing Advantages

  • Oral fluid samples are obtained under direct observation. This eliminates privacy concerns. Moreover, this also minimizes the risk of tampering.
  • This is a non-invasive testing method that causes minimal health and safety concerns.
  • Samples can be collected easily in virtually any environment. Supervisors are able to be trained in oral fluid collection to test employees working in remote locations. This is seen as an advantage for organizations located where access to a collection site may be challenging.
  • Oral fluid drug testing reflects more recent drug use for certain substances. The Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction expresses that this method of testing is evaluating “the active drug that is generally present in oral fluid, which provides a good indication of recent drug use.”

Oral Fluid Drug Testing Disadvantages

  • Drugs and drug metabolites do not remain in oral fluids as long as they do in urine. Therefore, detection times are shorter. For more specific detection times, check out our blog post on this topic!
  • Because oral fluid testing is a more recent testing method compared to others, it has not been legally challenged as often as urine testing. Therefore, case history is not as accessible as urine testing.
  • Oral fluid testing has a recommended use for only certain testing occurrences. It is not to be used for return-to-duty and follow-up testing.
  • There are currently no reliable instant saliva testing products that have FDA approval that also test to approved cut-off levels. Instance oral fluid technology has not been able to test with 100% accuracy at concentrations 25% below or above the cut-off levels. Additional research and development on this method are currently being conducted.

Key Notes From The Canadian Model 6.0

  • “Oral fluid testing Employers must retain a laboratory, as defined in this policy, to conduct oral fluid testing under section 4.8. Oral fluid testing may be permitted for incident (post incident) testing, observation of employee conduct (reasonable cause) and random testing. Oral fluid testing is not permitted for site access or any testing that is included in conditions established pursuant to sections 5.2.2(b) and 5.4.2.”
  • “A laboratory providing oral fluid-based drug testing services must ensure that the oral fluid-based testing be performed in such a manner that acceptable forensic practices and quality systems are maintained, specimen validity testing is deployed, regular independent audits occur, and proficiency test samples are included.”

Overall, this method of drug testing has several benefits that collection sites, organizations, and employees can utilize. Though this testing method is not at the same gold level standard as a urine drug test, oral fluid tests minimize several concerns that urine testing brings up.


If you’re looking to add Oral Fluid Drug testing to your drug and alcohol policy reach out to our team at CannAmm today! Our subject matter experts would be happy to go over the advantages and concerns of this testing method.


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