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Advantages of Instant Drug Testing vs. Lab Drug Testing

Drug screening is essential in maintaining a healthy workforce, worksite, and organization. According to National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance (NDWA), more than 74% of all current illegal drug users are employed, and they cause up to 40% of industrial fatalities in the U.S. With so many drug screening programs and providers available, most employers find it daunting to identify a drug-testing procedure that works for their organization and employees.

In industries like construction, where drug testing is an ongoing process and the initial testing demands are high, there is a need for reliable testing solutions to ensure that the HR department is not overwhelmed. When it comes to the testing process, instant drug testing has proved to be efficient and dependable compared to lab testing in so many ways. In this article, we discuss instant drug testing and its advantages over lab testing.

What Is an Instant Drug Test?

Just as the name suggests, an instant drug test is a screening procedure that gives you the results right away, usually within a few minutes. Other names for instant drug tests are rapid tests and point of care testing (POCT). Its purpose is to test for the presence of a particular drug in the specimen provided, and the result is either negative or not present. Instant drug tests do not officially give a positive result. The test specimen for instant drug tests is either saliva or urine. Some commonly screened drug combinations include marijuana, PCP, cocaine, amphetamine, propoxyphene, and barbiturates.

What Is a Lab-Based Drug Test?

In lab testing, the specimen is collected and sent to a lab for a rigorous screening. For lab-based drug tests, results take longer, usually two to three days on average. Lab-based drug tests can screen for any drug.

Types of Instant Drug Testing

There are various circumstances in which organizations or individuals may require drug testing. Some of the common cases in which instant drug tests can be of great help include:

  • Pre-employment drug testing.
  • Employee drug testing.
  • Court-ordered drug testing.
  • Drug tests for probation.
  • Child custody case drug testing.
  • Random drug testing.
  • Testing teenagers.

Advantages of Instant Drug Testing over Lab Drug Testing

While each drug testing procedure has its pros and cons, instant drug tests are more suitable for employers looking to speed up their decision-making processes by getting results faster. With so many factors to consider when choosing a drug-testing program, the benefits of instant drug tests are something an organization should keep in mind. The advantages of instant drug tests include:

Instant Results

As discussed, instant drug testing produces results within minutes of collection. This is one of the main advantages that instant drug tests have over lab-based drug tests, which may take several hours or days to get results from. With this kind of quick procedure, the employer can know whether the potential candidate or current employee has passed the test(s). It helps speed up decision-making and the overall hiring process. The person being tested also receive their results while still in the office, saving them time and unnecessary anxiety.

Parents may also choose instant drug testing to clear up any suspicions that their teenager is using drugs. If the results are nonnegative, they can pursue further tests to confirm the kind of substance their teenager may be using and prevent other drug abuse.

On-Site Testing

Administering instant drug tests at the office is advantageous for current employees. On-site testing reduces workflow interruptions because employees don't have to leave their workstations for drug testing. Since the results are also available on site, management can take necessary action based on the outcome.

Also, the hiring team can schedule a drug test for prospective candidates and proceed with the rest of the onboarding process immediately after obtaining results. For lab drug testing, organizations lose a lot of productive time as employees travel to the collection facility. It may even take up to three hours, depending on the distance from the worksite. Parents testing their teens for drugs can purchase the test kit and test within the privacy of their own homes. However, individuals purchasing these kits must understand how to administer the tests and interpret the results to keep from getting a false result.


Employers can avoid the high costs of both collection facilities and laboratory testing by opting for instant drug screening. The overall price of the process is substantially cheaper, especially if the employer opts for on-site testing, as they will not incur travel costs.

Instant drug tests are also the most affordable solutions for parents who suspect their teens are abusing drugs and want to test them frequently to clear those suspicions.

Flexible and Speedy Collections

The overall process of sample collection is fast and convenient. Whether the specimen is collected on-site or at a clinic, Origin instant drug tests provide flexible options for all testing situations. Origin is currently set up and able to schedule drug screens digitally at over 8,000 clinics in the U.S. through our software integration. Also, since nonnegative results may require further screening to confirm the result, we provide laboratory support in our SAMHSA-certified drug-testing laboratories.

Excellent Recent Drug Use Detection in Instant Urine Tests

Typically, instant drug tests use oral fluids or urine. The urine instant drug test is particularly excellent at detecting the presence of drugs used within the past 12 days. Urine tests show the presence or absence of drug metabolites in the urine. Drug metabolites are drug residues that remain in the body long after the drug effects are gone. This means a urine test for a particular drug may appear positive even when someone is not under the influence of the drug at the time of the test. Urine testing is less invasive and is also the legally accepted form of employment drug testing. Parents can also find a way of obtaining urine samples from their teenagers for testing if they suspect any form of drug abuse and do not want to confront them without solid proof.

Legal Ramifications of Instant Drug Testing

Instant drug tests are administered all over the country except in those states with laws that prohibit POCT for employment drug testing purposes. Also, some industries like the Department of Transportation (DOT) are federally regulated and do not allow instant drug testing. Since laws concerning drug testing vary across different states, organizations should familiarize themselves with state laws in their business localities. It is also crucial for companies to work with a drug screening vendor compliant with the state laws. 

How to Decide Between Instant Drug Testing and Lab Drug Testing

Company needs should be a priority when deciding on the type of drug testing procedure. Organizations that require specific safety protocol measures or operate in a sensitive environment may need more rigorous lab screening procedures. For companies where speed is a priority, instant drug testing will be ideal. For instance, a staffing agency will need an instant result to speed up its recruitment process and move applicants to the next recruitment stage within a short time. Cost is also a key factor to consider. There is a wide range of testing options depending on the organization's budget. Overall, instant tests are cheaper and offer a myriad of benefits.

Bottom Line

The growing demand for workplace drug abuse prevention requires industries to use innovative drug testing solutions. Origin Has developed Occupational Health Screening Programs for some of the largest Construction General Contractors, Manufacturing, Staffing, & Logistics companies in the world. Buy instant drug tests from Origin to save time and money.