Drug and Alcohol Testing

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Boulder Colorado Drug Screening

NorthStar Transitions performs urine drug screens and breathalyzer testing on all clients at all levels of care in order to monitor their sobriety. All urine drug screens are based on medical necessity of the individual client. The drug and alcohol testing schedules outlined below are typical but may vary based on medical necessity or other factors.

Clients will be given a urine drug screen upon admission to Residential Treatment, Day Treatment and or/ Intensive Outpatient (IOP) treatment in order to establish a baseline for each client. Depending on previous drug and alcohol use and treatment episodes, a client may still be showing positive on presumptive drug screens for some substances upon admission to treatment.

At the Residential Treatment level of care, clients will be given urine drug screens infrequently to ensure their baseline level is going down. Once clients move out of Residential treatment and into their own home or a sober living home, the risk of relapse increases due to the client having more freedom and less supervision. In order to hold the client accountable to their sobriety at the Day Treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and Outpatient level of care, more frequent drug and alcohol testing is needed. A typical testing frequency would be 2-3 urine drug screens per week and daily breathalyzer testing. 2-3 urine drug screens per week is a good frequency because the detection window for some drugs and alcohol is only 72 hours.

More About the Drug Screen Process

NorthStar Transitions performs presumptive drug screens. A presumptive drug screen is performed by having a client deliver a urine sample into a specially manufactured cup which can instantly detect the presence of up to 12 drugs including:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methadone
  • Oxycontin
  • Benzodiazepines
  • MDMA
  • Suboxone

and others. The presumptive drug screen provides a positive or negative result but does not give specific levels or confirm the validity of the specimen.

In order to provide confirmation of the presumptive test, NorthStar Transitions works with an unaffiliated third party laboratory with specialized equipment who can provide confirmatory testing. The laboratory can test for substances that cannot be tested for on a presumptive drug screen such as alcohol, ketamine, spice, bath salts and other drugs. The lab will also provide a report showing the client’s PH level, nitrite level and the exact level of substances in the client’s urine.

Confirmatory testing is necessary to test for drugs and alcohol that cannot be tested for on a presumptive screen as well as to track levels for a client new in sobriety. For example, if a client is coming directly into Intensive Outpatient (IOP) level of care after smoking marijuana daily for the past 12 months, then that client’s presumptive drug screen will likely show positive for 4-6 weeks. By regularly sending that client’s specimens into the confirmation lab, NorthStar is able to track the levels of THC in the client’s system and track the levels decreasing over time in correlation with the client’s length of sobriety.

SoberLink Breathalyzers

NorthStar has several high-tech SoberLink breathalyzer devices to hold clients accountable (and reward them by validating their ongoing abstinence). SoberLink breathalyzers utilize a cellular network to send client test results directly to NorthStar upon receipt of a submission. Therefore, the tests can be self-administered by the client anywhere there is a cellular signal. As the client blows into the SoberLink device to submit a test, a small camera on the SoberLink device takes a photo of the client taking the test. Therefore, when a client submits a sample, NorthStar is able to confirm who took the test by viewing the photo as well as the test results.

NorthStar’s drug and alcohol testing services are some of the most comprehensive in the industry and are an excellent data gathering tool which assists our clinical and medical staff in making informed clinical decisions. NorthStar’s drug and alcohol testing services are Federally certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Clinical Laboratory Program and accredited by the Joint Commission.