Twenty years ago you hardly ever heard about drug testing, unless it involved an Olympian like Ben Johnson, who infamously tested positive to a banned substance after beating Carl Lewis in the 100 metres of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
These days, however, drugs and drug testing are often in the news. From the different drug testing methods available and the large increase in drivers being caught driving under the influence of drugs, to the scourge of ICE and the affects drugs have on communities. While sport is still heavily involved in the drug-focussed news, often you’ll read about it on the front pages rather than the back.
The changing face of drugs in Australia
During the 1800s and early 1900s opium was the major drug causing issues in Australia. In fact, it was the first drug to cause a policy response. Illicit drug use took off in 1960s with many young Australians keen to experiment with drugs. As well as cannabis and its variations, heroin was very popular in the Vietnam War-era, quickly followed by cocaine.
Despite the threat of HIV and AIDS, government policies and other strategies, drug use increased significantly during the 1980s and into the 1990s. Heroin continued to be a major issue, until it became more difficult to access. It was then the turn of the so-called party drugs to catch the limelight, along with an increase in the number of people hooked to prescription drugs.
Nowadays, while there are still many Australians who use cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, and have issues with prescription drugs, ICE and other methamphetamines is the big news item.
Drug testing to the fore
As the history of drug taking in Australia has changed, so too has drug testing to try to catch the drug cheats in sport, or drug takers on the road and in the workplace.
While there are several methods of conducting drug testing, urine drug tests, hair tests, blood tests and saliva drug testing are the most common methods.
The rise of technology is playing a major part in this charge. For example, with the latest saliva drug testing units, drug testing can now be completed in minutes, rather than days or weeks. For example, with the saliva drug testing units used by many police forces and by Integrity Sampling to conduct workplace drug testing, a result can be obtained in as little as 5 minutes. More importantly, a saliva drug test is 99% accurate and doesn’t require the person being sampled to provide a hair, blood or urine sample.