What Is Drug Test Patching?

How the Transdermal Drug Patch Works

Traditionally, drug testing has been done by collecting a urine sample, blood sample, or hair follicle. However, today there is a new way to test for drugs that is simpler, more accurate, and non-invasive. A transdermal drug patch uses the sweat a person naturally excretes to detect the presence of drugs.

The patch can detect the parent drug and drug metabolite. Drugs detectable by the patch include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines

The patch, unlike traditional urine sampling, only needs to be done every ten days. Urine sampling only detects drugs that are currently in the system, whereas the drug patch can accurately indicate drugs that the person may have taken within the last few days. A longer testing window means that there is a greater chance of detecting drug use.

The patch is also easy to use. It is a non-invasive process. It is tamper-resistant, making it more difficult for a person to cheat the system. The patch uses a person’s natural sweat to detect the drug and metabolite. Courts across the nation have started using the drug patch as a way to ensure that a person is complying with a court order not to consume drugs. 

There are no “missed tests” with a sweat patch and no ability to dilute the sample. If a person removes the patch, it is designed so that it cannot be reattached. Furthermore, a person cannot simply switch out the patch for a new one without the monitoring agency knowing. Each patch has its own identifiers.

Drug test patches are not solely used for court. They can be used at home or by employers that require their workforce to be drug tested as part of their employment. Transdermal drug testing has been used across the country and has been proven effective in detecting several different kinds of drugs.