One of the most crucial elements of substance addiction treatment is the identification and determination of all possible substances that the individual may have taken including medications, alcohol, illicit drugs, and other chemicals. While all individuals seeking treatment at Sprout Health Group are strongly encouraged to provide information regarding the different substances that they may have been exposed to, unfortunately not everyone can remember everything.
Toxicology testing is thus performed in order to ascertain the different types of substances that will require management. This helps complete the overall picture of the individual’s condition that our licensed clinicians will generate. At Sprout, toxicology testing enables us to design and develop a plan of care that is highly specific to the needs of the individual. This makes it a very effective way of providing for a more responsive and truly-patient-centered addiction treatment program.
But what is toxicology anyway? Toxicology involves the careful study or analysis of the different toxins that are present in the human body. Toxins are substances which are largely considered as poisons as they are not necessarily needed by the body. However, because poisons have a very strong negative connotation, they are referred to as toxins instead. These substances are absorbed by the body either through the digestive tract or directly through the blood vessels. They can also be absorbed through the airway passages as well as the muscles, skin, and mucus membranes. Once absorbed, they are distributed throughout the body via the blood circulation. These substances are then metabolized by the liver before they are eventually eliminated.
Toxicology testing often involves the use of samples of blood, urine, or saliva. In rare instances, toxicology testing can also involve using gastric contents and sweat. Nevertheless, the easiest methods of obtaining samples for toxicology screening are urine and saliva although blood samples tend to provide a more definitive picture of the toxins present in the body. Depending on the sensitivity of the tests used, toxicology testing may check for one particular substance or up to 30 different substances at once. This is especially useful in determining polypharmacy or even multiple drug use. For example, it is a known fact the individuals who are addicted to opioids may actually have an entire range of substances to use including prescription painkillers, heroin, and cocaine.
Unfortunately, people know how to mask their addictions if an ordinary urine toxicology testing alone is performed. In most cases, they dilute their urine by drinking plenty of water or even cleansing drinks. These renders the toxicology tests invalid. As such, other samples may have to be obtained often through sweat and hair follicles.
In addition to enabling our clinicians to develop a more comprehensive and highly-individualized addiction treatment program, toxicology testing also help identify possible interactions between and among drugs as well as identify any efforts at diversion made by the individual. The toxicology results facilitate discussion with our clients, providing them with a much-clearer understanding of their substance-related behavior.