NIDA the National Institute on Drug Abuse was founded in 1974 as part of the United States Institute of Human Health. Both are under the US Department of Health and Human Services. Its primary function is to be the premier agency that would deal with the research, treatment, prevention and training services and data collection on the extent of drug abuse in the United States. They were later given more power in 1981 by a mandate from Congress through the Block Grant Program that gave it more control over the treatment and prevention of drug abuse. NIDA established the Center on AIDS and Other medical Consequences of Drug Abuse in 1998 to coordinate a multi-disciplinary research program on drugs abuse and HIV/AIDS. They launched the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network to test and rapidly determine the effectiveness of both pharmacological and behavioral treatments that have been developed. In the year 2000, NIDA distributes its CLINICAL TOOLBOX, a collection of the latest scientific publication and other materials on drug addiction treatment. In 2002 a NIDA funded research developed Buprenorphine as treatment for opiate addiction. Also in the same year they teamed up with Scholastic and increased drug addiction education in schools in providing science-based information to school children in the US.
The first mandatory drug testing guidelines for the Federal Government were published and made into law on April 11, 1988. It was revised three times with the last one on 2004 which further expanded the law and defined further the results verification and determination of urine drug testing in the federal workplace. The private sector soon followed suit as mandated by the federal government to endow the benefits of a Drug-Free workplace.
NIDA-5 is a set of Federal Government guidelines that was composed by both the US-NIDA and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) that directed companies and federal agencies to screen employees for substance abuse. This was aimed at those individuals who do safety sensitive jobs such as those involved in transportation and/or oil and gas related occupations. The screening process must cover five drug categories namely; THC (marijuana, Cannabinoids), Cocaine (crack, cocaethelyne, benzoylecognine), Amphetamines (speed, methamphetamine), Opiates (Heroin, codeine, morphine, opium) and Phencyclidine (PCP). Although the testing procedures for these individual drug categories were established decades ago by the US Food and Drugs Administration and NIDA the guidelines issued by the Federal Government now required all 5 of these substances to be tested and the results quantified as a whole rather than individual screening results.
This was brought up by the increasing rates of accidents on all forms of transportation that were caused by substance abuse from the above mentioned most common types. NIDA has been at the forefront of funding and research on the effects of drugs and addiction. They provide the public with support by publishing materials or documents that serve as guides and basis for drug addiction and treatment throughout the world in conjunction with the other branches of the Department of health.
The testing of these 5 substances can be carried out on several biological samples such as saliva, hair, urine, blood and sweat. All these biological specimens have the ability to indicate the presence and abuse of one or several drugs listed as addictive. There are two stages for drug use detection, the first being the most common screening is usually done to detect generally the presence of any banned substances. If there is a positive result upon screening, a more detailed laboratory examination is conducted through accredited laboratories who can process and come up with very accurate results through either mass spectrometry or gas chromatography.
Samples that are obtained for the testing of drugs can either be tested as is of further processed such as blood samples, hair and sweat. Blood samples have to be separated into the two components; plasma and the solid blood components of which plasma is the most likely subject for testing. Hair samples are first washed in a solution to eliminate any substance that may occur on the surface of the hairs which is then dissolved and analyzed through gas chromatography. Sweat is extracted from patches and then analyzed in the same manner as hair follicles.
Urine and saliva can be tested using kits that have media where it travels up through capillary action and activates chemicals placed on these strips showing up as different banded colors.
The NIDA has published a detection period table for each substance that may vary according to the frequency of use, age, body mass, health, tolerance and urine ph or acidity. For example, Amphetamines can be detected in saliva within 3 days, urine 1-4 days and in hair samples within 90 days. The specified table can be found on most drug testing facilities or government web sites of the Department of Human Health, NIDA and others.
The testing for these substances are usually performed during pre-employment health tests so as to screen possible problem employees who are drug users. They are quite cheap for only the basic requirements of NIDA-5 are tested making it cheaper to implement. This is done through in-house testing or through accredited laboratories who are paid by the company to conduct the collection and testing for them. Some laboratories will do tests on other newer substances classified as addicting which could cost more making them less attractive to employers. Random drug-testing is a controversial procedure where policing agencies conduct random testing of individuals who can either be a randomly selected individual or a known drug user. They are now conducted in corporations, drug rehab centers, prisons, military institutions, government agencies, schools, police and fire departments. They are done to discourage the use of prohibited substances through randomized testing.
Another avenue where these substances are tested for is during post-incident inquiry. This is not a preferred testing procedure due to the stress of being involved in any traumatic incident. It is done to protect firms from liability as a result of an employee that was involved in an accident while under the influence of prohibited substances.