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Discover the Difference Between a Drug Screen vs Drug Test

Testing a sample.

Even though they’re sometimes used interchangeably, a drug screen and a drug test are two very different things. If you’re confused about the difference between a drug test and a drug screening, Green Gone Detox can help define these terms for you. Check out our blog today for an overview of what you can expect when confronted with a drug screen vs. a drug test!

What is a Drug Screen?

A drug screen is very similar to a drug test in that a lab technician will collect samples of hair, blood, or urine for analysis. However, a drug screen is much more general because the testing methods aren’t as specific to reduce cost and increase speed. Unfortunately, drug screenings sometimes come back with false positives.

If your employer requests a drug screen and your results are positive, you should always request a second screening just in case.

What is a Drug Test?

A drug test starts out the same as a drug screen, but the laboratory is much more meticulous in its analysis. Because it looks at your tissue samples more closely, the results are more expensive, slower, and accurate. Most employers prefer drug testing vs. drug screening because they receive more reliable results.

Types of Drug Tests

Depending on the substances they’re looking for, there are several different types of drug tests you may encounter, including urine, hair, and saliva.

Urine Testing

Whether you’re potentially getting a drug screen or a drug test, you still need to pee in a cup in order for a lab to examine your urine for drugs in your system. Common substances they test for include marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine. They’re looking for evidence of substances after your system has metabolized them, as compounds stay in your system even after the effects have faded.
Hair Testing
    Hair testing can detect drug use as far back as three months. Many employers prefer this type of test over urine because it shows the extent and consistency of drug use for much longer than urine.
    Saliva Testing
      An oral fluid test is generally a mouth swab that can be screened and processed to determine substance use within the last 48 hours. However, it isn’t relevant for long-term drug screening or drug testing.

      Prepping for a Test

      A woman looking through a microscope.

      Now that you know the difference between a drug test and a drug screen, you know how to prepare yourself for these situations in the future. Prescription medication, dehydration, and certain herbal supplements may affect a drug test, so make sure the facility knows about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications!

      If you’re concerned with marijuana testing in particular, please explore our overview here!

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