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The Difference Between Immunoassay and Chromatography Testing

May 11th, 2013

Two words you are likely to run into a lot when discussing drug testing are immunoassay and chromatography. But, what do they mean and how do they relate to drug testing?


Immunoassays are antibodies that specifically bind to drugs and their metabolites in urine and other bodily fluids. Metabolites, by the way, are the chemical compounds that result after the human body has metabolized a drug. So, if a person smokes marijuana, for example, his body metabolizes the drug, which leaves behind the tell-tale compounds in his urine, blood, sweat, hair, etc. When he takes a drug test and his urine is mixed with a reagent (something that is added to the urine to bring about a chemical reaction) the reagent reacts with the metabolites in his urine and tells the tester that he has smoked marijuana.

When you purchase an instant drug testing cup or a drug testing strip or cassette from TestCountry, they are all immunoassay type tests. They are typically inexpensive, quick and provide accurate results if done properly.


Gas chromatography (and mass spectrometry, another phrase you’ll hear often in terms of drug testing) are analytical techniques used in laboratory settings and that need laboratory equipment to be performed.

Chromatography and spectrometry testing can distinguish a specific drug from other substances that have similar chemical properties (like prescription medication). With this technique, technicians are able to identify and determine the quantity of atoms, isotopes and the chemical composition of a sample because the samples various components are separated from each other.

Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry can determine the presence of drugs and other substances and are often used to confirm the positive results from immunoassay drug tests. When you make an appointment through TestCountry for a laboratory drug test, these are generally the techniques that will be used on samples taken.

So now you know the difference between immunoassay and chromatography/spectrometry testing.

Instrumental and Non-instrumental Methods of Drug Urine Testing

May 10th, 2013

Urine testing methods fall into the two categories of instrumental and non-instrumental. Both of these drug testing methods use immunoassay technology to check if there is any traces of drug in the sample and instrumental testing uses chromatography technology to confirm the presence and determine the quantity of the drug.

Instrument Testing

This type of testing involves a machine that samples, measures and produces a quantitative result, usually as a numeric amount on a scale.

The advantages of instrumental drug testing are that it can be automated since it’s being done by a machine and it provides accurate documentation of the testing done. It’s also easy to store samples for potential retesting purposes.

Modern machines usually have the ability to put results directly into an information management  system on a computer.

Reagents for testing are usually not as expensive for the machines as they are for non-instrumental testing, however, trained staff are required to run the machines. Most manufacturers provide staff training on their machines. So, although cost per test is usually relatively low, the initial cost of the machine and the staff training required have to also be taken into account.

Non-Instrument Testing: Point-of-Contact Tests

Simply put, non-instrument drug testing is testing that is carried out without machines. This type of testing requires taking samples manually and manually observing the results to produce either a positive or negative results.

Point-of-contact testing uses a non-instrument device (like an all-in-one cup or dip strip) to perform a test at the point of collection (regardless of where the sample is collected). And while they don’t give you as much comprehensive information as instrument testing, they are easy to use and provide quick and accurate results.

The cost per test of these is generally higher than the cost per test when performing instrument testing but the total volume of tests being performed should also be taken into consideration.

Although anyone can perform a non-instrumental test, having trained staff is preferred, especially if the tests rely on the reading of a color card to determine a positive or negative result.

Arrangements also need to be made if samples need to be stored and test results need to be documented for retrieval.

Generally, if a non-instrumental test gives a positive result, that result should be confirmed by instrumental testing.

Estimating Drug Testing Costs

May 9th, 2013

Like most other things, drug testing technology continues to change rapidly and thus, the associated costs are also in constant flux.

It is best to make budget estimates for drug testing based on costs at the time that you are preparing your annual budget. The cost of supplies for maintaining a point of contact drug testing system vary widely depending on the type of test you use, the manufacturer of those tests, how many drugs they test for at one time and the quantity of tests that you will need. TestCountry helps cut down on these costs by providing you with a variety of brands and different types of tests to choose from. It is important to keep in mind that even though the cost of these tests drops if you purchase them in bulk, they have expiry dates and must be used prior to that date so it will not be worth it to purchase a large number of them unless you know you can use them before they expire.

Laboratory drug testing service costs also fluctuate between labs. TestCountry has a network of over 8,000 labs across the country to help you find an affordable laboratory in your area, no matter where your company is located.

Other factors you need to consider are the possibility of having to hire or train staff (although point of contact tests are easy to administer and read and laboratories have their own professionally trained staff) and whether or not you will need to store samples for later testing or store testing equipment.

Getting a handle on the relative costs of a drug testing program need not be difficult. An open and honest dialogue with point of contact test retailers and laboratories is the best way to ensure that you can tailer a drug testing program to your needs while maintaining your budget.

Questions To Ask Drug Testing Equipment and/or Supply Vendors

The following is a list of suggested questions to ask vendors of drug testing equipment and/or supplies when making budget estimates.

• What supplies are needed to conduct the drug testing? What are their costs?

• What staff and facilities will be needed to conduct the testing, store supplies and samples, etc.?

• What is the methodology used to produce the test results? Who interprets the results? What staff training is needed? How are test results recorded?

• How quickly can test results be obtained?

• What potential for error is associated with producing drug test results? Reading the test results?

• Is the test more accurate for some types of drugs than for others?

• What type of confirmation process is required? Suggested?

• How much does each test cost? What does this cost include? What additional costs associated with the drug testing process need to be budgeted?

  • How many drugs can the methodology test for at once?

By working with a reputable drug testing retailer like TestCountry, you should be able to estimate your drug testing budget relatively easily and create a drug testing program within that budget.

The Addictions Coach Creates a Mobile Rehab to Combat Drug and Alcohol Addictions

April 14th, 2013

The Addictions Coach announced that they are offering a mobile rehab service in addition to their individual private sessions. The Addictions Coach Company is bringing the rehab to the client. They have mastered the art of handling addictions by pairing Yoga, nutrition and fitness, along with traditional talk therapy, to assist in the fight against addiction, all done on location of their clients. Sober coaches usually employ the more traditional of therapies, including talk therapy and prayer to assist clients in gaining insight into their addiction, but Cali Estes, owner of The Addictions Coach, has taken the approach to a whole new level.

Cali’s multidimensional approach focuses on the underlying cause of the addiction and she approaches each client in a unique manner. Unlike traditional drug rehabilitation centers that convince the addict that they have a disease that is incurable and they must attend meetings, recite prayers and follow steps, Cali tailors her program to fit the client. By realizing that each client is unique and their pattern of addiction is unique with a root cause, Cali is able to address the addiction at the core and assist the addict in making the necessary changes and positive steps in their life.

“Actors like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan use sober coaches to get clean,” Cali said.  When I work with actors, I like to decrease their Post-Acute Withdrawal symptoms and teach them how to access the feel good chemicals in their brain by using Yoga, nutrition and fitness. “

Cali is more than a ‘sober coach’. She has a background in clinical and personality psychology, addictions and forensics. She can get to the root of the addiction quickly and work with the client in building a safe environment in which to make the changes necessary to live a productive lifestyle.  Clients in addiction feel powerless, helpless and hopeless and need answers and ways to change their lives. Sometimes family and friends think that everyone should be able to have ‘just one drink’ at a function, but for some clients that is not what happens. That one drink turns them into an unmanageable individual that their family and friends cannot deal with. Taking a pill to ‘get through the day’ or ‘take the edge off’ eventually leads to a full blown addiction with the addict personality. Cali can address all these issues with both the family and the client and assist them in making the changes necessary to be happy and healthy.

“I do the traditional one hour a week sessions, but I am also available to assist clients on tour, on movie sets, or for 30 day stays in their home,” Cali said. “For a high powered CEO or actor that does not have the time to spend in a residential rehab, I can bring the rehab to them.”

Cali has consulted in 2 countries and frequently flies between South Florida, New York and Los Angeles to work with her clients. She has clients in the music industry, acting/film, modeling, CEO’s and frequent high stress jobs clients. She is available on an individual basis for clients, more intensive or for speaking engagements. She has accompanied clients to high risk situations like weddings, worked ‘on set’ of movie and film productions, worked directly with pro athletes, sat in on business meetings, been ‘on tour’ with musicians and even will work directly in the home of the client for a more intensive ‘rehab’ setting.

“I am available for individual sessions, long day sessions from 8-12 hours, weekly sessions on as a 30 day stay,” Cali said.  “I handle drug, alcohol, food and assorted other addictions at the root cause and assist the client in realizing that a life free from addiction is possible.”

The Addictions Coach is based out of Miami Florida but services clients in all of South Florida, New York City and Los Angeles.


Guest Post written By Cali Estes


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Understanding DUI and DWI

March 8th, 2013

You see drunk driving officially called driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) all the time. But do they mean the same thing? And what types of vehicles do they pertain to? And can you get busted even if you’re only a little buzzed? What about if you’re not under the influence of alcohol but you are under the influence of some other type of drug?

How rampant is drunk driving?

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people in the United States who are under the age of 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 40% of those fatalities involve alcohol.

The legal drinking age is 21 years old in all 50 states and the legal limit for a criminal charge of DUI or DWI is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. BAC is a metric measurement that pertains to the amount of alcohol present in a 100 milliliter (ml) volume of blood, meaning if you have 0.08% alcohol content per 100 ml of blood, you are considered legally drunk, regardless of how you might feel.

The number of laws pertaining to drunk driving have been increasing over the years to combat the rising number of injuries and fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers.

What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?

In a lot of states, the only difference between DUI and DWI is semantics. They are virtually the same and both pertain to criminal charges for the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or combination of both. However, in some states a DWI charge is specific to alcohol and a DUI charge is specific to being under the influence of other drugs or a combination of alcohol and other drugs.

Not all DUI/DWI charges are equal, either. Each state has its own specific charges for driving while alcohol-impaired but the category of charge will depend on the age of the driver, the type of vehicle being driven, the degree of intoxication and whether or not any property damage, injuries or fatalities occurred prior to you being busted.

Being under that magic number of 0.08% BAC doesn’t mean you can’t be charged, either. In some jurisdictions you can be charged with DUI/DWI even if you are below the 0.08% BAC threshold. If you are a commercial driver, you can be convicted of DUI/DWI with a BAC of only 0.04%. If you are a driver under 21, any amount of alcohol can be grounds for a DUI/DWI arrest.

BAC Alcohol Detector Test

BAC Alcohol Detector Test

Common criminal drunk driving charges in the U.S.A.:

  • DUI – Driving Under the Influence (alcohol or drugs)
  • DUII – Driving Under Intense Influence
  • DWI – Driving While Intoxicated
  • DWUI – Driving While Under the Influence
  • OUI – Operating Under the Influence
  • OWI – Operating While Intoxicated and Operating While Impaired
  • OVI – Operating a Vehicle Impaired
  • OMVI – Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated

What type of vehicles can I be arrested for driving drunk?

The short answer is; basically any type of vehicle.

Depending on the jurisdiction, you can be arrested for the operation of the following if you are legally impaired:

  • Motorcycles
  • Aircraft
  • Boats and other watercraft
  • Construction and farm  equipment (e.g., back hoes and combines)
  • Bicycles
  • Horses and horse-drawn vehicles (even if the horse is sober)

How will a DUI/DWI conviction affect me?

The short-term ramifications include temporary driver’s license suspension, fees and fines, court-mandated community service, participation in drunk driving education programs, and potential jail time.

However, even after you pay the fines and fulfill your legal obligations, your DUI conviction can haunt your life for years.

Long-term consequences of a DUI conviction include:

  • A costly legal process
  • Job loss and damage to future career prospects
  • Higher auto insurance rates
  • Damage to personal and professional reputation
  • Criminal conviction on your records for years
  • Possible revocation of driver’s license

The only way to completely avoid the risk of a DUI/DWI conviction is to avoid drinking and driving. It’s not worth the risk to you or anyone else to do it.

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Answers, comments, information, articles and opinions provided on all TestCountry related webpages are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, counseling, psychological, or other professional advice. You should not use the information on TestCountry for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. You should always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, rehabilitation or detoxification from any substance abuse or adopting any treatment for a health or drug problem.

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