The United States government recognizes the need to conduct forensic drug testing in law enforcement and other public settings due to increased drug abuse in the state. So, law enforcement and government agencies all over the U.S. are required to use accredited facilities for testing drugs to maintain a level of safety for themselves and the public at large.
The analysis of drugs is essential to determine if a substance has been used or even harmful. However, not all drug screening laboratories are the same. Because of this, it is essential for law enforcement and government agencies to know where to get their drug testing analysis from.
The easiest way to find a CAP-accredited laboratory is to look on the Drug Enforcement Agency's website. The DEA has a drug testing laboratory list of approved and accredited laboratories.
Table Of Contents:
- What Is Drug Analysis In Forensic Science?
- What Is The Process Of Forensic Drug Testing Analysis?
- What Types Of Tests Are Used By A Drug Analyst?
- Where Does Forensic Drug Analysis Work?
- How To Find A CAP Accredited Drug Testing Laboratory?
What Is Drug Analysis In Forensic Science?
Forensic drug testing refers to the scientific analysis of a specific substance, or a mixture thereof, to determine whether or not it is an illegal drug. These tests are used in court proceedings and can result in incarceration for those found guilty.
Forensic analysis in drug testing has become increasingly popular in the last few decades due to the widespread abuse of illegal drugs, such as cocaine and MMJ. Most law enforcement agencies require that the crime scene be tested for drugs, along with those suspected of committing a crime, to get accurate results.
However, in the United States, a CAP-accredited forensic analysis facility is required by law in all public facilities that analyze drug testing. It ensures the safety of both the facility and the general public.
As technology advances, the techniques to ensure drug use are brought out. But even with this advancement in the drug screening field, it is still incredibly important for law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories to formulate a well-thought-out plan for testing and analyzing samples. These plans must include proper safety procedures and strict internal rules for handling forensic evidence.
Moreover, the purpose of Forensic Drug Testing analysis is as follows:
- It is to identify a specific drug or substance if administered, taken, inhaled, or ingested by a person in any given circumstance.
- It is to determine the identities of any illegal substances that may be present at a crime scene.
- It analyzes the concentrations of drugs within an individual's body to support the theory that they were used before a crime. This information can be supplied as evidence in trials and police investigations into crimes involving illegal substances.
What Is The Process Of Forensic Drug Testing Analysis?
Forensic drug chemists analyze samples of drugs and other substances found on-site or collected from individuals for forensic testing. These substances can be in a liquid, a solid, or even a gas.
The drug chemist will use various techniques and procedures to bring out the substances present in the sample. It can be done through heating, drying, or reacting with another chemical. The end goal of this procedure is to get the sample ready for analysis.
The drug chemist will also have to determine whether or not the substance they are analyzing is indeed a chemical base belonging to a specific substance family; this is known as classification. However, the process of forensic drug testing analysis is broken down into three parts.
These parts include the collection of samples, the extraction of specimens, and the analysis of the samples. According to the DEA, samples are collected first before being sent to a forensic analysis laboratory.
It is done by taking samples of a substance in a controlled environment and recording them. The specimens are then extracted and sent to a forensic drug analysis lab. A professional will analyze the specimen to determine whether it is illegal.
With the analysis of the samples, one can find whether any illegal substances are present or not. If they are, this could result in an arrest and possible incarceration of an individual. Those convicted of drug crimes can also be required to complete a substance abuse program and may even be reduced from their sentence.
What Types Of Tests Are Used By A Drug Analyst?
Drug analysts use different techniques to test samples for illegal substances. These techniques include gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, standard chemical tests, and liquid chromatography.
These different techniques analyze how the substance reacts to other compounds in the body. It, in turn, indicates whether or not the body is detecting the substance that was included with the sample.
However, the two main types of tests used to determine whether an illicit drug is present in a substance: presumptive tests and confirmatory tests.
Presumptive tests are usually colorimetric, meaning that a color change is observed after the test is performed. It has to be done with a device that provides a readout, such as a spectrophotometer or a colorimeter.
These tests are presumptive because they are used by law enforcement to determine whether drugs are present in the body or other substances. The drug analyst can evaluate the results visually. Still, they cannot confirm it unless the substance tested is transported to an accredited laboratory for forensic drug testing analysis.
A confirmatory test uses instrumental analysis to detect illegal drug substances in the body. It is the primary method used today by forensic drug testing analysis facilities. Instruments used in this testing method include Gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, spectroscopy, and other analysis techniques.
These instruments can determine the characteristics of a substance present in the specimen by analyzing its molecular and toxicological properties. Using these instruments to examine a specimen makes it possible to determine whether or not an illegal drug is indeed present.
Where Does Forensic Drug Analysis Work?
Forensic drug analysis work can be performed in any forensic drug testing facility accredited with the CAP. However, CAP is the primary accrediting agency for these facilities, and most relevant agencies recognize the CAP worldwide.
The CAP-accredited forensic analysis lab must be located in the United States. It must have undergone a rigorous testing procedure that starts with scouting out best practices followed by inspections and conducting regular on-site audits.
It ensures that the facility follows strict quality assurance standards and relevant legislation set by law enforcement and government agencies. These facilities analyze the contents of evidence that has been collected from crime scenes and suspects of drug possession or use.
These facilities have established procedures followed when performing this type of analysis and equipment and tools to ensure proper disposal or containment of any substance. The facilities also use adequate safety precautions to ensure that those who work in and around them are maintained at all times.
How To Find A CAP Accredited Drug Testing Laboratory?
To find a CAP-accredited drug-testing laboratory, you can search online or look in the phonebook to find one in your area. You can also contact your local law enforcement agency and ask them to provide forensic drug analysis services.
They will direct you to an accredited forensic drug testing analysis facility within their department. These centers are located all over the United States, so there should not be any problem finding one close to where you live or work.
However, one such facility in the United States is the UShealthtesting, and they are accredited by the CAP as well. They have a dedicated team of professionals who are experts in drug testing. Their facility has been inspected and audited by the CAP, and they have an excellent record of providing quality results in a short time.
With their services available to both consumers and private companies, customers can benefit from getting their samples tested using their private laboratory testing services. UShealthtesting services are used nationwide in 3000+ locations, and they have several satisfied customers to testify to the quality of their services.
Forensic drug testing analysis is constructive for prosecuting people for drug use or possession. However, this process must also be performed following local state and federal laws.
That is why most drug testing analysis facilities have to be accredited by the CAP to follow the relevant laws governing local, state, and federal levels. Therefore, forensic drug testing analysis is a handy tool to help law enforcement officials determine if a person has illegal substances in their system.
What Are The Most Common Drugs Analyzed?
The most common drugs analyzed are MMJ, cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, PCP, morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. It is a long list of substances tested regularly by forensic drug testing analysis facilities.
What Is The Turnaround Time For These Tests?
A forensic drug analysis can take several days to several weeks. The total time it takes to conduct a forensic drug analysis depends on the type of test performed and the type of substance analyzed.
A presumptive test will take a shorter time to perform, while a confirmatory test may take several weeks.
What Is The Difference Between A Qualitative And Quantitative Analysis?
A qualitative analysis will only indicate if an illegal substance is present or not. It won't provide any information on quantity, nor will it suggest if specific amounts are present.
A quantitative analysis will provide information on the number of drugs present in the substance being analyzed. This information is used to determine if someone has been involved in drug activity.
What Are The Advantages Of A Qualitative Analysis?
Most employers and law enforcement officials prefer a qualitative analysis for several reasons. First, it is a cheaper test to perform than a quantitative one because it does not use expensive lab equipment.
Second, a qualitative test can be performed almost anywhere in the country and on-site with only essential equipment. Lastly, it provides results within a few minutes or hours after receiving the sample.
How Is Forensic Drug Analysis Different From Medical Drug Analysis?
Both medical drug analysis and forensic drug analysis are different in both their use, purpose, and procedures used to determine if a substance is present or not. Medical drug analysis is used in the medical field to determine what type of drug should be prescribed by a doctor and how much should be prescribed.
Law enforcement or customs officials do forensic drug testing analysis to determine if an illegal substance is present in any given substance found during an investigation.
How Do I Choose A Forensic Drug Analysis Facility?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a forensic drug analysis facility. First, you want to choose a facility that is CAP accredited. It will ensure they follow all relevant laws and have undergone thorough testing to determine their quality of work.
Second, you want to ensure that this forensic drug analysis facility has performed forensic drug testing analysis for many customers before, so you know the quality of their work. Third, you should ensure that the facility has a good reputation for providing excellent services and quality results for its customers.
You can search online to find testimonials from past customers on their services. You can also contact your local law enforcement agency and ask who they recommend for forensic drug analysis services.
You can use these tips to choose the best forensic drug analysis facility in your area. Following these tips, you can quickly find a reliable and trustworthy forensic drug analysis service provider.