How Accurate is a Home Saliva Test?

Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

The home saliva test for checking alcohol or drug levels is roughly as effective as the blood test and is generally considered highly accurate in detecting levels of these substances in the body. There are some limitations to the home saliva test, such as time constraints and the potential for skewing results. The benefits often outweigh the negative aspects, however, and may include a lower overall expense and results that are more accurate than the urine test.

Use of a home saliva test is convenient for many people because it does not have to be administered by a health care professional, although samples will need to be sent to an appropriate lab for testing. This may allow employers to more easily perform random drug screening for employees and even allow parents to test their children for drugs and alcohol. When performed under supervision, the home saliva test is also harder to taint or switch with saliva from someone else.


One of the main drawbacks of using a home saliva test is that it is not always accurate at detecting long-term drug or alcohol use because there are strict time restrictions. Most saliva tests are only able to detect substances which have been ingested within forty-eight hours of testing. Some may be more sensitive, while others may only have a window of about twenty-four hours. Testers should be aware of these restrictions before performing the test, and should be prepared to repeat the test randomly to get more accurate readings.

There are various labs available to receive home saliva tests. Each one will have set instructions for swabbing the mouth and transporting the sample to their facility. Testing times also vary, so results may take several days or even weeks to be reported.

Although the home saliva test is highly sensitive, it should be noted that for detecting a long-term drug or alcohol problem, one may be better advised to use a hair strand test or blood test. The hair strand test can sometimes detect drugs which have been ingested months before the test is administered, while the blood test has a less restrictive time table than the oral or saliva test.

Testing laboratories or doctors may give more information on the accuracy and reliability of various testing techniques. For random testing without suspicion of a drug problem, the home saliva test may be the best choice. More serious suspicions may need to be looked into with another option or with a combination of tests.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?