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New Saliva Drug Test Gaining Popularity

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Saliva Test
RALEIGH, N.C. — A new saliva drug test is gaining popularity among employers and it is welcomed by prospective employees who are confident they are drug-free.

Rebecca Arvin hopes to get a job at WakeMed. She knows she's drug-free, but she would not expect any employer to take her word for it, especially a hospital.

"I've worked as a traveling nurse for three years, so I very frequently go through drug screenings," she said.

Those screenings usually mean a blood or urine sample, but now all Arvin has to do is hold a sponge in her mouth.

"They soak it for two minutes, get it really wet and then it's inserted into the testing kit and we wait 10 minutes," said Carla Stevens, of WakeMed.

Stevens' office screens all job applicants at WakeMed. She has used blood and urine tests, but is more than happy to switch to the newer saliva kits.

"It is a lot less invasive, a lot less humiliating to the applicant and most of them are very surprised and very pleased," she said.

If a line appears next to the symbols representing cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, PCP or opium, it means you are drug-free. If nothing appears, the test is positive.

"There are controls built into the test kit, so that you know your test is pretty reliable," Stevens said.

Officials said the process is fast. Blood or urine test results come in 24 to 36 hours. Arvin's saliva test proves she's "drug free" in just 10 minutes.

"I think that's very important. It's a much better step than having to, you know, wait and wonder for some people, and to be sure that your results are back and you're ready to start work," she said.

Some prescription medications can trigger a positive test result, so applicants have the option of further screening with a blood or urine sample.