What is drug and alcohol screening? How does it differ from drug and alcohol testing done in a lab? What are the benefits for employers? Read our latest expert article to find out…

What is drug and alcohol screening?

Drug and alcohol screening is used to rapidly detect on-site the presence or absence of a drug and/or alcohol or any metabolites. This is an important first step in today’s workplace testing and is a much quicker and cheaper option than sending all biological samples to a laboratory for testing.

Companies looking to safeguard their businesses and maintain their reputations introduce drug and alcohol screening as part of their testing policies. These policies provide details of comprehensive testing schedules and the consequences of failing a drugs and/or alcohol test. In addition, drug and alcohol screening is often implemented prior to hiring new employees.

An immediate negative result whilst undergoing workplace testing is obviously the best outcome for both employee and employer as it usually means that no further action needs to be taken. Anyone’s test that provides a non-negative result on a screening device would require further investigation.

What does non-negative on a screening device mean?

Non-negative does not mean the same as a positive result. As the name implies, a non-negative result on a drug screening device means that the test wasn’t negative. It means that an amount of substance was detected. It could be a trace amount and within the margin of error, but as it’s not negative it will need confirmation analysis back at the laboratory.

In other words, the screening test has failed but further analysis is needed to confirm what substance has been taken and in what quantity.

Should an employee receive a non-negative test result, they must be informed and immediately cease all safety-critical functions. AlphaBiolabs is proud to provide the fastest laboratory results available. Same day results can be provided if required to alleviate any anxiety to the individual concerned and minimise any absences from work.

Why is confirmation testing needed?

A non-negative result requires confirmation testing from AlphaBiolabs to determine exactly what drug was taken and the quantity present. Each drug has its own unique chemical structure and therefore has a different molecular ‘fingerprint’. Because of this, when the various drugs travel through the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS), they each move at different speeds and fragment in a unique pattern. This means that each drug is unequivocally identified and measured in ng/mL.

AlphaBiolabs can create a bespoke workplace drug and alcohol testing programme for your business and implement this policy for a fully managed solution. For a consultation with no obligation, or information on any of our workplace testing services, call us on 0333 600 1300 or email at