FAQ & Popular Misconceptions

FAQs & Popular Misconceptions regarding Drugs & Alcohol Testing, Training, Education, Policy and Procedures. See if we have the answers to your questions and if not you can Contact Us directly, we’d love to help.


Could my employer be prosecuted if I am under the influence of alcohol at work?

Yes, under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Employers could be prosecuted if they know you are under the influence of excess alcohol and you are allowed to continue working, putting co-workers at risk.

Could I be arrested or fined for being on drugs or under the influence of alcohol at work?

Yes. Under a law called the Misuse of Drugs Act, if you drink alcohol or take drugs or other substances (except when prescribed by a doctor) while at work, you could be breaking the law and you may be prosecuted.

How can I choose a high quality "Point of Care" drug test device/kit?

Just because a product has been “CE” marked is not a sign of quality. In fact, there have been cases where the CE mark has been falsely applied (i.e. not actually CE registered). In addition to CE marking, consider such things like FDA 510(k) clearance – as this indicates that the product has been through a rigorous quality audit (by the USA Food & Drug Administration). There are currently no UK quality accreditations for “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits? The ITS range of single and multi-panel CE marked, FDA 510(k) and CLIA waived drug test dips, cups and drug test kits, offer highly accurate, specific, sensitive and reliable point of care testing solutions. The ITS Premier Biotech Oral-Tox (rapid oral fluid drug test) has received FDA 510(k) clearance. One of only 2 devices that has achieved this quality assurance clearance, it demonstrates why it is one of the leading Oral Fluid drug testing point of care devices available on the market today.

Are the cut-offs used the same on all "Point of Care" drug test devices/kits?

No. Many “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits are made for the mass USA market and use higher cut-offs and test for drugs that are less relevant to the UK. Using higher cut-offs may mean that you will not detect a larger quantity of positive samples at the lower end, making your testing program less effective. If testing in Europe, to European standards, then you should look for a “Point of Care” drug test device/kit that has test strip cut-offs aligned to the European Workplace Drug Testing Society (EWDTS) laboratory screening standards where possible. The ITS range of Point of Care urine drug testing devices/kits and oral fluid drug testing devices/kits are manufactured with that in mind and specifically for the UK and Ireland market.

Who should we test?

From construction to banking, there are employers and employees tackling the problems associated with drug and alcohol use. Long hours, stressful situations, high pressure workloads and high expectations can all be a reason why someone may “turn to the bottle” or something “a little stronger”. Although drug and alcohol testing are usually associated with safety critical workers where the dangers of being “under the influence” are more obvious, business critical employees should not be overlooked. Drug and alcohol abuse knows no barriers of religion, class, skin colour, age, sex or profession.

How long after taking drugs can they be detected?

Approximate duration of detectability for selected drugs
NOTE: These guidelines are not intended to be applied to any specific individual; guidelines represent averages only. Drug detection periods can vary based on type, strength, and frequency of ingestion.
It may be that all three methods fit into your testing model. As far as costs are concerned, Urine and Saliva/Oral fluid are very similar, whereas Hair testing is the most expensive although often the most revealing and detailed. Ideal where conclusive evidence of longer term past / regular drug use or abstinence is required.


Why should we have a policy?

To reduce the financial impact upon the business.

  • Alcohol is estimated to cause up to 5% of all absences from work
  • Up to 14 million working days lost each year through alcohol misuse alone
  • Drugs and alcohol are estimated to be a contributory factor in nearly 25% of all workplace accidents
  • Alcohol is implicated in nearly 60% of UK workplace fatalities
  • Substance misuse can result in reduced company performance and decline in profitability
  • Reduction in internal morale and customer confidence
  • Higher turnover of staff
  • It has been calculated that a substance abuser costs their employer in excess of £8000 per annum
  • Poor customer and public perception as a result of bad publicity and tarnished reputation
  • Higher risk = Higher insurance premiums or lower cover availability

To improve the wellbeing of the business through:

  • A healthier and safer workforce. Fewer accidents or incidents
  • Lower absenteeism due to substance misuse
  • A better trained and educated workforce enabling responsible actions to be taken
  • Protecting against wrongful dismissals and tribunal cases, as an informed and legally defensible actions can then be taken
  • Employee Assistance – early intervention and reduced “chaotic” or “crisis” issues
  • Higher productivity and efficiency
  • Increased employee morale and enhanced customer confidence
  • New markets where a robust and active D&A policy is a pre-requisite for entry
  • Lower associated occupational health/health care costs
  • Additional support for Mental Health initiatives
  • Discounted insurance rates / more cover
What are the benefits of using an ITS "Point of Care" drug test device/kit?
  • Instant results allow for immediate initial risk assessment when compared to waiting 1+ days for laboratory screening results
  • Quick and easy to use with minimal training – watch our useful procedure videos
  • High quality devices = Highly sensitive, specific and accurate screening results. Less wasted time and money
  • Time and cost efficient. Less wastage (from quality issues)
  • Back up from a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable industry professionals focussed on customer service and quality
  • Industry leading innovations and quality
How does a "Point of Care" drug test device/kit work?

Most “rapid detection Point of Care” drug test devices/kits utilise a technology called lateral flow. Sometimes called a “rapid test” which is based upon the principle of competitive inhibition binding. Therefore, drugs that may be present in the urine / oral fluid specimen compete against their respective drug conjugate for binding sites on their specific antibody. During testing a portion of the urine / oral fluid specimen migrates upward through a membrane strip by capillary action (also known as “wicking”). Based upon the presence or absence of a drug then a line will be visible or not in the “test” area (“T” line). The control line (“C” line) will be visible when the test strip has run correctly. All ITS “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits come with clear instructions for use and the support of a friendly and highly experienced team of industry professionals.

How many "drugs" can a "Point of Care" drug test device/kit detect?

This will vary from device to device and manufacturer to manufacturer. ITS “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits don’t just look for “drugs” , however, they also detect specific metabolites of drugs (i.e. what the body produces once it has processed a drug). Some of our “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits can also detect alcohol and some can also detect adulteration markers using sample validity testing (SVT). Usually, the more detection strips on a device then the higher the cost. Please see the specific ITS product descriptions which will indicate what is included / available. Or feel free to contact us to discuss your exact requirements – we are here to help.

How accurate is a "Point of Care" drug test device/kit?

If you use a high quality “Point of Care” drug test device/kit, then they tend to be highly accurate by default. It should be noted that overall accuracy must include sensitivity and specificity and be calculated with both “positives” and “negatives”. E.g. You can have a strip that is claimed to be 100% accurate for “positives” because it is using a very high cut-off (i.e. low sensitivity) and cross-reacts to many “compounds” (i.e. low specificity). However – this strip would miss many “lower end positives” and can therefore impact on the integrity and effectiveness of the testing process and that of the Policy.

Accuracy, specificity and sensitivity figures, other important information and specification can be found on the ITS “Point of Care” drug test device/kit product insert contained in every box or available on request. Each strip and cut-off will have different data, so this will impact on the average overall accuracy depending on which combination of drugs are being tested for.

How are results read?

A “Point of Care” drug test device/kit will usually include a built-in control line for each test strip to indicate that the test has performed correctly. The control line should always appear regardless of the presence of drugs. It confirms sufficient sample volume, adequate membrane wicking and correct procedural technique. If the control line does not appear, then the test is usually classed as “invalid”. A negative or “POC positive” screen result is usually read via the presence or absence of a line in the test area of the strip. All ITS urine drug testing and oral fluid drug testing products come with clear instructions on how to interpret results. Our short procedure videos also provides a helpful guide.

Are all "Point of Care" drug test devices/kits the same?

In short – no. There are high quality devices/kits and there are low quality devices/kits. Like most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. Despite claims of “highly accurate” etc and published figures, the quality of devices/kits available on the market varies massively. This is due to a number of reasons including:

  • variable batch quality / consistency
  • poor quality control during manufacture
  • false claims – publishing figures that were “manipulated” for the quality study, but then never consistently achieved during manufacture
  • poor quality / inadequate materials used
  • low grade oral fluid collection devices

The ITS range of high quality “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits are manufactured with quality and reliability at the fore front of the process. The ITS range of single and multi-panel CE marked, FDA 510(k) and CLIA waived drug test dips, cups and drug test kits, offer highly accurate, specific, sensitive and reliable point of care testing solutions. Drug test strips available include prescription and over the counter medications, illegal drugs and NPS’s (sometimes referred to as “legal highs”).

Can my employer help me if I have a dependency on alcohol, drugs or other substances?

Employers have a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing health and safety of staff under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Disciplinary action should be a last resort.

Could I be sacked for being on drugs or under the influence of alcohol at work?

If your employer can prove that drugs or alcohol have had a detrimental impact on your ability to do your job, you may be dismissed. They must have a good reason to justify dismissal, related to your conduct or capability.

You may be sacked if your conduct is so bad that it means you’ve broken one or more of the terms of your employment, for example: continually missing work; showing poor discipline; evidence of drug or alcohol abuse; or theft or dishonesty.

Your employer should follow a fair disciplinary procedure before dismissing you for misconduct. Under this procedure they may also consider help and other interventions such as counselling.

Are "Point of Care" drug test devices/kits results reliable?

If you choose a high quality device/kit such as the ITS range of point of care drug testing solutions, and you follow the instructions for use – then yes. Point of Care drug testing must be carried out correctly to maintain cost/time efficiency and to ensure accurate results. Our helpful short videos demonstrate the process from start to finish. This is a fairly straightforward process and there are only a few stages that can affect the quality of results. A “positive” screen test result (either via a laboratory or a “Point of Care” drug test device/kit) does not always mean that a person took illegal/legal/prescription drugs and a negative test does not always mean that a person did not take illegal/legal/prescription drugs; there are several factors that influence the reliability of the test results. There is a possibility that other substances and/or factors may interfere with the test and cause incorrect test results.

What are the limitations of "Point of Care" drug test devices/kits?
  • The device should be only used for the qualitative detection of drugs of abuse in sample type it is intended for. Follow the instructions carefully
  • The assay provides a screen test result A more specific alternative chemical method (such as GCMS, LCMS or similar) must be used in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result. ITS recommend that a UKAS accredited laboratory is used within the UK
  • There is always a possibility that technical or procedural errors as well as other substances and factors may interfere with the test and cause false Follow the instructions carefully
  • A “POC positive” screen result may indicate the presence of a drug/metabolite only, and does not indicate or measure intoxication/impairment. Impairment is difficult to measure and is often “subjective”. However, ITS deliver a unique training course that covers specific signs and symptoms to assist in the detection of impairment and give confidence in Policy decision making
  • A negative POC screen result does not at any time rule out the presence of drugs/metabolites – as they may well be present below the minimum detection level of the This could be due to passive exposure or being at the “tail end” of the window of detection
  • Screen test results do not always distinguish between drugs of abuse and certain medications (prescription or otherwise). E.g. an Opiate test strip will give a screen positive result for both Heroin and Opiate medications (e.g. co-codamol). ITS have a specific 6-MAM test strip which will indicate that the opiate result is due to Heroin rather than medication. However, a more specific alternative chemical method (such as GCMS, LCMS or similar) may be used in conjunction with a Chain of Custody process in order to obtain a confirmed analytical result and whether it is due to medications or not. This result is quantifiable (an actual measurement) and specific – can break down the result into various compounds such as parent drug and it’s metabolites. The opinions of a Medical Review Officer (MRO) may also be required – where a confirmation result is challenged for example
What do the abbreviations on the drug testing kits mean?

AMP – Amphetamine
BAR – Barbiturates
BZO – Benzodiazepine
BUP – Buprenorphine
COC – Cocaine
FYL – Fentanyl
6-MAM – Heroin Specific
K2- Spice
KET – Ketamine
THC – Marijuana/Cannabis
MTD – Methadone
EDDP – Methadone Metabolite
MET – Methamphetamine
OPI – Opiates
OXY – Oxycodone
PCP – Phencyclidine
PPX – Propoxyphene
K3 – Spice/Synthetic Cannabis

Can I rely on the quality of results?

Quality of products and results can differ hugely from company to company. Not all products, services or testing kits are the same – so please contact us to discuss your specific requirements so we can assist you to find what best suits your needs. We will let you know all the facts to empower you with choice. During clinical trials our Premier Bio-Cup and Bio-Dip gave results of greater than 99% accuracy. See specific product inserts for details.

What type of tests methods can I use?

Oral Fluid (Saliva), Urine or Hair

Some companies have concentrated on just one of these technologies, so that’s all they will offer. Many may try and sell their system where its use is not appropriate or indeed required. Other suppliers may just push the “most profitable” items or the systems that they must sell a minimum number of each month as part of a contract. Laboratories may often not wish to offer point of care/instant screening devices as it can reduce their income. ITS is an independent company and therefore offer impartial advice. We are experts in all areas of testing, therefore we can inform you truthfully and authoritatively which product is right for your application. To decide what method is best suited to your testing programme, you must first consider the “window of detection”. This is basically from when a drug is detectable and the length of time that drugs remain detectable (over the cut-off limit). This varies dependant on the sample media type that you are testing. The tables below are intended to give a rough guide of this “window”.

What are the benefits of introducing a drug and alcohol Policy and testing?

In summary it is a proven, low-cost strategy, which identifies those needing help, reduces demand, cuts down on accidents and sickness leave, reduces compensation claims, improves attendance and increases productivity.
Drug abuse can make the user up to 33% less productive, 3 times as likely to be late, four times as likely to hurt others at work or themselves, five times as likely to sue for compensation and ten times as likely to miss work.

Why consider Price versus Quality?

“The bitterness of poor quality remains after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.” (Benjamin Franklin)

ITS products and solutions may be considered as (relatively) expensive. Don’t always expect the lowest bid/price from us. We know and understand what it takes to consistently deliver high quality and innovative drug testing point of care solutions, products and services. We listen and understand what is of use to our customers and what gives them high value for money. We are ready to walk away if somebody expects us to discount the price down to the point when we compromise the quality, or the future of our business. Why – because, at the end of the day, low price can be very costly for both the customer and the supplier. ITS believe that you just can’t consider price in isolation from quality. Quality of products. Quality of service.

 “Price has no meaning without a measure of the quality being purchased.” (W. Edwards Deming)

Our business is built upon 3 pillars as shown in our logo – Quality. Innovation. Trust. These are values that we respect on a day to day basis throughout our business.

What if I need some help, or something doesn't work as expected etc?

Contact us as soon as possible and we will deal with it for you, help or advise you.

It is as simple as that.


What is a lateral flow "Point of Care" drug test device/kit?

A lateral flow “Point of Care” drug test device/kit is a competitive binding, lateral flow immunochromatographic assay for qualitative and simultaneous detection of drugs of abuse in human urine or oral fluid specimens. The test devices/kits usually consist of one or more membrane strips mounted in a plastic cassette/device. A bit like a pregnancy test – they give an indication via a marker which is interpreted as either a “Negative” or “Positive” screen result. This initial “screen” result is never 100% accurate and requires further (more expensive) confirmation analysis. This result can only be quantified via laboratory confirmatory analysis. ITS would recommend that this was carried out via a UKAS accredited laboratory.

Who can perform the test?

Some “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits are more complex to use than others. However, the majority are incredibly simple to use if you follow the instructions carefully. This means that virtually anyone can use them with minimal training. ITS have a range of short procedure videos that give an easy to follow step by step process. Where legally defensible results are required, documented training is highly recommended. ITS can do this for you via our specific Collection Officer “Chain of Custody” training, delivered by our own highly experienced and friendly trainers.

How quick are the screen results?

Most “Point of Care” drug test devices/kits will give screen results within 5-10 minutes from activation. Sometimes negative results can be read in as little as 2 minutes. This time will vary due to sample type and also the drugs being tested for. The ITS range of urine drug testing and oral fluid drug testing products have strips and tests designed to run slower than others – this is normal and aids better quality results for that strip. The specific instructions indicate at what time “POC positive” results should be read and also over what time they should not be read.

What do I do if I get a "POC Positive" result?

With any screening process (either carried out at a laboratory or via a “Point of Care” drug test device/kit) you will inevitably get “false positives”, “false negatives”, “real negatives” and “real positives”. “False negatives” are rarely challenged by the sample donor – e.g. why would an employee argue that they were negative for drugs? All “POC positive” results (also known as “non-negative” and/or “presumed positive” screen results) should be confirmed via a UKAS accredited laboratory confirmatory analysis – such as LCMS, GCMS or similar. This confirmation result, together with a report from a Medical Review Officer when applicable, is considered as the definitive result.

Popular Misconceptions

Isn't drug testing expensive?

“I recognise the need for testing but isn’t it an expensive process?”

No, it isn’t. Using the ITS high-quality tests for initial screening is relatively inexpensive and most companies who adopt a robust and active Policy benefit from a number of hidden cost savings, lower absenteeism, greater productivity and fewer costly accidents/incidents. Using lower quality and inferior tests can lead to erroneous results, resulting in a lack of confidence in the Policy/Procedures, more challenges (and therefore more management time) and costly employee tribunal or legal cases. The average cost of an employee tribunal can easily exceed £15000 – never mind the time required. What is the cost of a life lost through an accident? What is the cost of claims and legal expenses due to accidents or incidents? Corporate manslaughter / Corporate homicide? The question might be, can you afford not to introduce a policy?

£3 Billion per year, is the estimated cost to British industry from drug and alcohol related problems. An employee tribunal can easily cost in excess of £15,000. An investigation by the HSE can result in businesses closing (temporary or permanently), very hefty fines and possibly prison sentences for those found at fault.

We don't have a doctor or nurse on site

“We don’t have a doctor or nurse on site and these tests are complicated – so will they stand up in a tribunal/court?”

ITS can fully train your own staff in the collection processes and Chain of Custody to ensure “legal defensibility”. All products are CE and FDA (510k) certified, and our breathalysers are also UK Home Office approved. Our high quality “Point of Care” screening products and solutions meet very strict and high standards. Scientific analysis of samples for confirmation analysis following a “non-negative” point of care test, should be conducted by an ISO17025 UKAS (or equivalent) accredited laboratory services.”

A typical “Chain of Custody” training course lasts around 4 hrs. At the end of the course, attendees will be able to confidently administer a legally defensible drug and alcohol test using Point of Care (for drugs and alcohol) and laboratory processes. This can save you £1000s compared with using 3rd party suppliers.

Our policies don't really cover drink and drug related issues

“Our policies don’t really cover drink and drug related issues Most companies don’t bother as it is very difficult to know what to include and how to administer it correctly. We just don’t know where to start.”

Simple, with our extensive experience in this field, we can write a bespoke policy for you and provide a comprehensive implementation, training and educational package. With our support, you can meet your H&S requirements in a quick and cost-efficient manner.

In the United States over 90% of companies regularly use pre-employment, for cause and random drug and alcohol testing. Within the UK, the Government and HSE have actively encouraged robust Policy – including drug and alcohol testing by employers (where appropriate).

We can't implement a drug and alcohol policy because of the Union

Wrong, the Trade Unions strongly back a responsible drug and alcohol policy. With the emphasis on education and rehabilitation, you will enhance the employee/employer relationship.

The TUC, along with the Institute of Personnel and Development, Institute Of Directors, HSE and the Police, have all endorsed a national initiative for business and industry, to acknowledge the problem of substance abuse in the workplace and to develop policies based on welfare principles.

There are no drug or alcohol issues in this workforce

“I know most of the people who work here, there are no drug or alcohol issues in this workforce”

This is another common statement, but if the police suspect that one in five road accidents are caused by drug related problems and one in seven deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal drink drive limit, can there really be no issues within your workforce?

I have no means of implementing a drug and alcohol policy properly

“I know most of the people who work here, there are no drug or alcohol issues in this workforce”

This is another common statement, but if the police suspect that one in five road accidents are caused by drug related problems and one in seven deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the legal drink drive limit, can there really be no issues within your workforce?