How do I Pass a Swab Test?

Taking a mouth swab
Taking a mouth swab (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A mouth-swab test is a type of drug test that measures the presence of drugs in your system. During this simple, non-invasive procedure, your saliva will be collected from your mouth and then analyzed. Oral swab tests, like urine and blood tests, work because drugs are excreted in your bodily fluids. They are less invasive than urine and blood tests, but also more ineffective at identifying past drug use. Most drugs are not detectable in your saliva after about three days. The detection periods is six-to-12 hours for alcohol, one day for cocaine, 12-to-24 hours for marijuana, and up to three days for amphetamines, PCP, and codeine. This makes it easier for you to pass an oral drug test, because drug levels are present in your urine, blood, and hair for much longer. Many job opportunities may be closed to you if you cannot pass, because many employers require their employees to periodically face random drug tests. The results of this mouth-swab test can affect your life in various ways.

Avoid ingesting or smoking any drugs that are not over the counter and for which you do not have prescriptions. This is, of course, the most effective way to pass the test. If you need help ending your use of drugs, see a therapist. You may also consider joining Narcotics Anonymous. To pass a test, you will have to abstain for up to 72 hours. For health and legal reasons, you should make every effort to abstain permanently.

Assorted pills
Assorted pills (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Avoid sharing close quarters with people smoking drugs such as marijuana or heroin. Though rare and unlikely, sitting in an area with a very dense concentration of smoke from other people’s drug use may cause you to fail a swab test. If you believe this has happened, explain your situation before the drug screening and the lab technicians may be able to determine if the faint traces of drugs found fit your explanation.

Smoking marijuana at a 4/20 celebration in 2010
Smoking marijuana at a 4/20 celebration in 2010 (Image: John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Follow the lab technician’s orders. You may receive instructions about what to eat or not eat before the exam. These are designed to help the lab ensure its results are accurate. For example, you may be told to avoid eating anything with poppy seeds. Opium is made from poppy seeds, so this may result in a false-positive test.

Sandwich on a poppy seed roll
Sandwich on a poppy seed roll (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Contest a false-positive test. If you are sure that your system is drug-free, ask for a retest. Bring any and all prescriptions for drugs you are taking, and also be honest about what kind and the amount of over-the-drugs you take. Think of any factors that may have resulted in this false-positive test, and present them to the lab technician before your retest.

Doctors discussing test results
Doctors discussing test results (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Avoid home remedies. There is no scientific evidence that these have any effect on oral swab tests. If you are buying a product to try at home, be warned that many of these products are expensive or dangerous. Furthermore, many of the products designed to "fool" the drug tests themselves contain drugs that may become detectable and signal to the lab that you are ingesting chemicals commonly used to deceive the test. Remedies that purport to work for urine tests by diluting or masking your sample will generally not work for oral swab tests, because you will not have the opportunity to ingest the amount of water necessary to dilute your saliva during the process.

Some pills claim to help "fool" a drug test
Some pills claim to help "fool" a drug test (Image: Paul Tearle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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