Introduction

Currently, urine and blood are the most commonly used specimen types for drugs of abuse testing. In these specimen types, commonly abused drugs and/or their metabolites can generally be detected for a few hours to a few days. One of the reasons for common use of these samples is high concentration of drugs in these specimens. In recent years, with the advent of sensitive methods, the interest in alternate samples such as hair, oral fluid, sweat and meconium has grown. These alternative specimens provide unique and sometimes additional information on drugs of abuse. The advantages of these specimens include ease of sample collection, less intrusion during sample collection, decreased potential of sample adulteration and sample stability. Despite many advantages, these alternative specimens also pose a number of challenges for the analytical laboratory including interpretation of data. Relative drug detection times for various specimens are shown in Fig. 1. Advantages and disadvantages of these specimens are listed in Table 1.

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