Rapid/Instant Drug Testing

Instant drug testing or Point of Collection Testing (POCT) is drug testing that isn’t performed with a certified laboratory. There’s a variety of devices offered for this method, like oral fluid or urine, that test for a single drug, while others can be used to test for combinations of drugs. Unlike lab-based drug testing, POCT or instant drug testing requires a subjective assessment of the result (e.g., the tester must decide if the test is negative or positive based on visual clues), while laboratory-based drug testing is objective. The primary benefit of a POCT is speed to results, but that speed comes with additional risk of a false positive.

instant drug test

An instant drug test is exactly as its name implies—you get the results right away, at the point where it’s collected, usually within a few minutes. It’s what we call an immunoassay screening; its purpose is to detect any presence of that category of drugs in the specimen. The result is either negative (it’s not present) or non-negative (it is present). An instant drug test can’t officially give a “positive” result.

Other names for instant testing are “point of care testing” (POCT) and rapid tests. An instant drug test typically uses urine or oral fluid (saliva) for the test specimen. The test usually screens for some combination of the following: amphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, opiates, oxycodone, PCP, and propoxyphene.

For a lab-based test, the collected specimen (urine, hair, oral fluid) is sent to a laboratory for more rigorous testing. As such, it takes longer to get the results (2-3 days, on average).