Lab Testing: A Crucial Tool in Treatment and Recovery
According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, out of the total estimated number of people with a substance use disorder (24 million with a drug use disorder and 29.5 million with an alcohol use disorder) 94% did not receive any treatment.
Laboratory drug testing can be instrumental to a proper treatment protocol and can provide important information for a provider to help a patient reach recovery. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Blood, urine or other lab tests are used to assess drug use” and “may be used for monitoring treatment and recovery.”
Some benefits of incorporating lab testing are:
- Establishing a Baseline – When a patient is starting treatment, it is extremely important to establish a baseline of their substance use. This can inform what type of treatment plan a provider will create.
- Progress Monitoring – Testing throughout the treatment process can verify adherence to the plan by identifying if any substances are still being used, as well as monitor that medication prescribed for treatment is being taken.
- Accountability – Testing can create a sense of accountability for a patient, reducing the likelihood of relapse.
- Identifying Relapses – Relapses happen, they are a normal part of the recovery process. It is important to identify when relapses happen so that triggers can be noted and the treatment plan can be adjusted, if necessary.
- Harm Reduction – Ability to identify and provide education and resources to patients at risk of unintentional overdose.
“The importance of drug testing is not only to hold patients accountable, but it has also become a form of education and motivation for patients to engage more in recovery. It is another way to show them that what they think they are putting into their system cannot be trusted and can put them at an even higher risk of unintended death. It shocks them when they see their test results come back with other substances and subsequently motivates them more towards their recovery.”
Kara DelCurto, NP Owner and Provider, Tamarack Health Clinic, A Navis Lab Testing Client
According to SAMHSA, clinicians should discuss drug test results with patients using a therapeutic, constructive approach. Results should be used clinically, not punitively, and should be used to explore different treatment interventions and treatment plans that will reduce and eliminate substance use and improve treatment compliance.
Navis Clinical Laboratories is proud to partner with clinicians to provide innovative, data-driven solutions that support a person-centered care approach and enhance substance use disorder treatment protocols and harm reduction strategies.
If you or someone you know is struggling, SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.