A study that was presented during the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association indicate that drug abuse testing often yields inaccurate results, according to a feature
on Med Page Today. The study was conducted by Dr. Dwight Smith of the Boston Medical Center and his colleagues, and involved a review of literature of drug tests and their scientific background as well as the possible clinical concerns that may arise.
Smith was quoted as saying: “There are gaps in our understanding of the science behind drug tests
, and how that leads to our interpretation of testing results.”
There are two general things that make the results of what was termed as a “general drug test” inaccurate. One is the generation of false positives triggered by otherwise harmless substances, while the other is the inability of the test to detect all abused substances.
The number of drug tests that are currently being performed and the role that it plays in various aspects of life in a society – including employment, education and sports – make specific knowledge regarding the limitations of general drug testing important for the correct interpretation of test results, as well as for the determination of next steps.
For instance, a positive result may not necessarily mean that the person is abusing drugs; for one, a small teaspoon of poppy seeds, roughly the amount that can be consumed in a poppy seed bagel, may generate false positives; the same holds true for the intake of certain medication. This means that there may need to be a follow-up background check on the patient’s medical history if the patient tests positive.